Boy Dress Styles: Necklines and Collars

Figure 1.--A reader sent us the scan of this unidentified portrait. She is unsure about the origin or the date. The unidentified child we think because of the buggle is a boy. We suspect either American or English and we would date it to the early- to mid-19th century, because of both the hair style and the dress style (low neckline and skirt cut). Click on the image for a fuller discussion.

Necklines and collars varied a great deal. The neck features seemed to have varied over time. The chronological differences seem more important than gender differences. Children dresses in the early 19th century were often made without collars. A good example is an American boy, C. Olin Boyden in 1852. Some of these dresses also had low necklines. Two factors seem involved here. One it appears to have been fashionable. Two, ready made clothing was not yet available. Dresses without collars were much easier to make. A collar was a complication. Thus collarless dresses and blouses were very common for younger children in the firsthalf of the 20th century. Women's necklines could be quite daringly low until late in the 19th Century. This was often for formal occassions such as balls. We also notice young children with low necklines, both boys and girls. Here the factor was not formality, but as best we can tell the age of the child. Girls dresses generally followed the styles popular for their mothers. Boys until distinctive dress styles developed for them in the late 19th Century wore the same styles. This was particularly true for younger boys. We also notice a wide range of coolars on dresses. These could be both an integral part of the dresses or pin on styles. A popular pin on style was lace collars. We notice many different styles of collars used on dresses. A factor here was the greater availability of readt made clothing. And with industrial expansion during the 19th century family, many families could afford to buy ready-made clothing.


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Created: 6:37 PM 2/1/2010
Last updated: 6:37 PM 2/1/2010