Breeching Age: Actual Ages: 3 Year Olds

Figure 1.--The children were from Michigan. We would estimate that their portrait wa taken innthe 1890s. The children look to be about 2-6 years olsd. The little boy looks about 2-3 years old. The older boy about 3-4 years old. This suggests to us that the boys wee breeched at about age 3 years.

Age 3 is when we first begin large numbers of boys being breeched. We have little information on this for the early-19th century, but believe relatively few boys were breeched at age 3 years. One question we have is about the working class. We believe that children in working-class families tended to be breeched earlier than boys from more affluent damilies. We know much more about thev mid-19th century with the appeaance of photography. We note most 3-year olds still wearing dresses by the mid-19th century when large numbers of photographic images first become available. The situation becomes more diverse in the 1870s when we see quite a number of 3-year olds wearing kilt suits instead of dresses. The kilt suit was a kind of transitional garment, but boys wearing them would not have been considered breeched. We begin to see some 3-year olds wearing knee pants by the 1880s. These younger boys often wore fancy suits like Fauntleroy suits. We also notice 3 year olds wearing kilt suits. One thing we are not sure about is if boys wearing kilts also had dresses or just other kinds of outfit they wore. Here are images are commonly single portraits. Thus we are not sure about their full wardrobes. We notice 3-year olds commonly wearing tunic suits at the turn of the 20th century, but these were worn with bloomer knickers. So I think that would constiture breeching.


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Created: 10:07 PM 8/6/2007
Last updated: 10:07 PM 8/6/2007