* publications illustrating childrens clothes

Fashion Publications and Children's Fashions

Figure 1.--The American magazine the Delineator is the best source of information on late-19th Century children's fashions. Note that the magazine was using the term Fauntleroy suit for a wide range of styles.

The fashion magazine first appeared in the 18th century. These magazines provide much more detail about fashion than is available on any previous historical period. Information on children's clothes, however, is limited until the late 19th century. At this time the exposion of the fashion publishing industry begins to provide great dertail on adult as well as children's fashions. Fashion magazines are an important source on fashion trends. They are less reliable than store catalogs as they sometimes are taken to fanciful styles which may not have been widely worn. This is especially true in the years before photography which can be a confirmation that such styles were actually worn. They are, however, normally dated and thus thus very useful in estanlishing trends. In the years before photography, these magazines and paintings are the major source of fashion illustrations. Also important are women's magazines which provide household guidance on a wide variery of issues touching upn fashion, such as hair styles and breeching.


Publishing expanded enormously during the 18th Century. More average Europeans were learning to read and low cost newspapers and inexpensive tracts appeared to meet the rising demand. One important new creatiin in the late 18th Century was the creation of the fashion magazine. Early fashion magazines, however, dealt primarily with women's fashions. Children's clothes were rarely mentioned. In fact specialized children's clothes were just beginning to be an accepted convention. The British fashion magazine Lady's Magazine serialized Rosseau's Emile in 1779 with its plea for more human child care practices and specialized, comfortable clothes for children. It was not until the turn of the 19th century that fashion magazines began addressing children's clohing and then only one or two outfits a year. The focus continued to be on women's and to a lesser extent men's fashions. It was not until the 1860s that garments for teenagers were even mentioned. At the same time publications targeting children began to appear, publications like The Young Lady's Journal. By the 1870s, fashion magazines had begun to give some level of attention to children's fashions, often including regular features. Some magazines by the 1880s featured collections of colored plates illustrating children's fashions. Some basic understanding of the history of photography, printing, and publishing is helpful to date early images and for understanding the impact on fashion through the developing mass media of the 19th century. Some of the periodical publications that have drawings or photographs illustrating childrens fashions are discussed below.


Late 18th Century

Improving technology for printing drawings helped popularize fashion magazines that appeared in the first decades of the 19th century. These magazines were aimed at affluent ladies and focused on women's fashions. Children were not depicted in the drawings as the magazine focused on women's high society fashions. The first fashion magazine appeared in England and not France as might be assumed. The Lady's Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement appeared in 1770. While actually not the first fashion magazine, it was the first to be issued regularly. The Lady's Magazine, as it is commonly referred to was published until 1837 and was enormously infuential. Similar magazimes soom appeared on the continent. The first color plates appeared in 1790. The magazines mostly chroinicled the elaborate fashions of royalty and society leaders. Issues of interest to women beyond fashion were discussed. Similar publications appeared in France even before the Revolution which burst upon Europe in 1787 and the chroniclring of fashion was not interupted by the Revlution.

Early 19th Century

New fashion magazines appeared in the early 19th Century. Some for the first time occasionally pictured children's clothing. Godey's Magazine appeared in America in 1837 and had an enormous impact on women's fashion.

Mid-19th Century

Magazines expanded coverage of children's issues and fashions. Fashions for teenagers were first mentioned in the 1860s. The Delineator appeared in America. The magazine covered children's fashion to a greater extent than any other American publication. The magazine also introduced the highly popular practice of including patterns.

Late-19th Century

Subtanial improvements occurred in the ability to publish illustrations during the late 19th Century. The cost of reproducing illutrations declined. Thus publications were able expand the number and the detail of their illustrations.

Early 20th Century

The process for reproducing photographs in books and magazines was developed in the 1890s, but did not become economilcal and thus widely used until after the turn of the 20th Century.

Mid-20th Century

Late 20th Century

Country Fashion Publications

HBC has begun to collect information on fashion publications. The ladies magazine appeared in the 19th century, with along with a wide variety of household and family topics also addressed fashions. We have also included sewing magazines as they have great detail on contemprary fashion. In addition, until the mid-20th century, it was very common to sew clothing for children, especially younger children. We still have fairly limited information on these publications, but have begun to acquire some information on a few countries. The total number of publications is quite substantial. They were published in viftually every country and the divesity of languages complicates are ability to assess the fashions involved. Of course some countries were more important than others. In this regard the English and French publications were particularly important. Some of the publications are widely known, others are virtually unknown outside their indvidual country. Some have published for decades while others lasted ionlyba few years. At this time we have only begun our assessment of these publications, but hope our readers will provide information about important publications in their countries.

Patterns in Magazines

Many important fashion magazines began including patterns in their magazines in the late 19th century. Some of the most important were Delineator and McCalls. Other companies specialized in patterns, but eventually begun issing a variety of sewing and knitting fashion publications as well.

News and Feature Magazines

While fashion magazines were the publications of greatest intrest to us HBC, we note a number of illustrated news and feature magazines that are of interest to HBC. While not dealing with fashion per se, the illustrations and photographs provide many images of children and the clothing that they were wearing over time. A great of information can be gleaned from these magazines. There were even advertisements in these magazines that offered insights into children's clothing. Many of the titles are still well known to us. Others are less well known, but were of consideral importance in their day. We are most familiar with the American and British magazines. Hopefully our readers will provide information on important publications in their country.


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Created: January 14, 1999
Last updated: December 5, 2003