* U.S. publications illustrating childrens clothes

United States Fashion Publications and Children's Fashions

Figure 1.--.

The most obvious source of fashion and clothing information are of course fashion magazines. They are not, however, the only source of such information. Fashion asrticles are often carried in a wude variety of magazines and publications, including newspapers. In addition, a new publication genre appeared in the 19th century--the woman's magazine. These often include articles about fashion as well as child care--issues that often touched upon clothing issues. In some cases it is difficult to know how to classify some magazines.


Magazines are a unique part of the social history of any country. The first magazine was pyblished in America before the Revolution in 1741. The early magazines did not have long runs. The first examples usually lasted only a few months. The best known early publisher was Benjamin Franklin. Historians know of almost one hundred magazines addressing a wide range of issues and subjects which appeared during the 18th century. Few had any truly national following, in part because of the cost s of distribution. The first mass circulation magazines appeared in the later part of the 19th century. Some magazines achieved circulations of up to 750,000 subscriptions, especially in the general boom following the Civil War (1861-65). Magazines which initially targeted at people of means. Several factors led to the boom in magazine publishing after the Civil War, including: rising incomes, technical advances in publishing, lower postal rates, and advances in public education crearing more readers. The production of attractive, but inexpensive issues fueled rising subscription rates. The perfection og photolithography at the turn of the 20th century was an especially important development. With mass circulation, the content of magazines shifted from a concentarion on education and information to an increasing emphasis on entertainment. As with newspapers, higher circulation rates meant more revenue from advertising revenue. This allowed publishers to sell magazines for less than the cost of production, bringing prives down to a level virtually everyone could afford.

Popular Magazines

A number of American literary, phot-journalist, and other magazines offer helpful infotmation about contemporary boys clothing. The 19th century magzines were primarily literary magazines with fascinating drawings. Journalitic magazines began to appear in the 19th century when the technologu for publihing photographs helped add drama to the magaines. Some like the Saturday Evening Post combined literature and a journalism. Eventually Time, Life, and Look became mainstays of the American household.

Fashion and Women's Magazines

Ladies magazines have been publishing the information of interest to women for the past two centuries with "sucessful formulas" that keep women reading. With increased subscriptions by the 1890's, the ladies magazine expanded the capacity for communication from one community of ladies to all communities of ladies throughout America. And, although they created this large audience they still maintained their "small town" attitude of community and caring in their writing. The early trendsetters in publishing have now evolved into the brilliant magazines of today like BUST, Bazaar, and Martha Stuart's Living. The magazines of the 1990s, however, have much less about boys'clothes than the earlier magazines or even the magazines of a generation ago. Apparently the modern woman is less interested in children's clothes.

Women's Instructional Guides

A a new publication genre appeared in the 19th century--the woman's magazine. These often include articles about fashion as well as child care--issues that often touched upon clothing issues. In some cases it is difficult to know how to classify some magazines so we have included them with the fashion magazines above. We will list here non-periodical home making guide books that can be purchased. Some of these dealt with fashion. Others provided a information on a range of other issues touching upon fashion and children's clothing, such as hair styles and care, breeching, washing, care of clothing, selecting age appropriate clothing, dressing sibling alike and many other pertinent subjects.

Assessing Styles in Fashion Magazines

Some caution must be used in assessing the clothing styles displayed in fashion magazines. Often these fashions are idealized styles, reflecting more how mothers wanted to dress their children than how boys actually dressed. This is not to say that the fashions ha no influence. The influence, however, appears to have varied over time.


Besides the fashion magazines we discuss here, there is also a great deal of fashion information in newspapers. These were ads by deparment stores and other local merchants. We note some in the late 19th century, but many more in the 20th century. We have arrchived these ads along with the catalog in the catalog and periodical advertising section of HBC. An interesting question is where the art work for these ads came from. Some large department stores may have had art departments. Smaller stores may have commissioned the art work. This of course would have been expensive. We note a group called the "Fashion Review Service". This group provided advertising cuts to small clothing and department stores that could not afford their own art staffs. We do not know a lot about this group, but they appear active in the 1920s-30s. Many large newspapers also carried articles on clothing and fashion. This is a topic we have not yet persued, but hope to eventually ad some of these articles to HBC.



Guimpe frock for a girl, with pattern diagram, Apron for a girl from 2 to 4 years old, Harper's Bazar, February 16, 1895.

Shirt waist and trousers for a boy from 11 to 12 years old, Frock with large collar for girl from 14 to 16 years old, Harper's Bazar, June 15, 1895.

Pique frock for girl from 5 to 6 years old with pattern diagram, Gingham frock for boy from 2 to 4 years old with pattern diagram, Harper's Bazar, June 15, 1895.

Misses dress, with straight, full skirt, Girl's middy costume, The Delineator, March 1896.

Child's double-breast Waverly suit, Child's standard suit, Boggs & Buhl, Spring & Summer 1892.

Child's Rennert suit, Child's sailor suit, Boggs & Buhl, Spring & Summer 1892.

Child's sailor suits, Three-piece suits, Little junior suits, The Putnam, Spring & Summer 1895.

Selection of boy's suits, Boggs & Buhl, Autumn & Winter 1895-96.

Children's caps and bonnets, Boggs & Buhl, Autumn & Winter 1895-96.

Boy's ties, ladies' collars and trimmings, Boggs & Buhl, Autumn & Winter 1895-96.



Boggs & Buhl, Autumn and Winter Fashions 1895-96, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

Brokaw Bros., Fine Clothing, Spring and Summer 1892, New York.

Besse Syndicate, Spring Catalogue, 1897, Foster Avery & Co., Portland, Maine

The Delineator: a Journal of Fashion, Culture and Fine Arts, Butterick Publishing Company (Limited), London and New York. 1894: March, May, July, August, December 1895: May, July, September, December 1896: February, March, July, December

Demorest's Family Magazine, Demorest Publishing Company, New York. February 1896, August 1897

The Direct Supply Company, Spring and Summer 1896, New York.

E. Butterick and Co.'s Catalogue for Autumn 1893, Butterick Publishing Company (Limited), London and New York.

H. O'Neill & Company, Spring and Summer Catalogue, 1892, New York.

Harper's Bazar, Harper & Brothers, New York. 1893: March 13, September 2 1894: February 17, June 16, July 14 1895: February 16, March 16, June 8, June 15, July 27 1896: May 30 1897: June 26

The Ladies' Home Journal, September 1898, The Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia.

The Ladies' Monthly Review, October 1894, The Butterick Publishing Company (Limited), London and New York.2.

The Ladies' Standard Magazine, October 1893, Standard Fashion Company, New York and Chicago.

Metropolitan Fashions, December 1896, the Butterick Publishing Company (Limited), London and New York.

The Putnam, Spring and Summer 1895, Chicago.

Weldon's Ladies' Journal, August 1897, Weldon and Company, London.

The Young Ladies' Journal, March 1, 1895, E. Harrison, London.

Hints on Housemaking

Mrs. C.V.G.- Dress a boy a year old exactly like a girl, except that he may wear a round lace cap, in place of an infants' cap bonnet. (2) For a fall cloak and cap have white, blue, tan or brown. [Ladies Home Journal, September, 1993]

Mrs. J.C.- Your little boy's white serge sailor suits can be dry-cleaned by a dryer or washed at home, using the same precautions as you would for nice underwear. The blue can be treated in the same manner. [Ladies Home Journal, September, 1993]


Although not devoted specifically to fashion magazines, reserachers interested in magazine history will ant to look at Frank Luther Mott�s five-volume History of American Magazines (Harvard University Press, 1930-1968) an wonderful survey and a good beginning point. A helpful work with additional information is Theodore Peterson�s Magazines in the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois, 1964).


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Created: July 14, 1999
Last updated: 4:45 AM 1/29/2008