Breeching Age: Sources of Information

Figure 1.--Photos like this are one of the best sources of information on family conventiojs concerning breeching. The lack of information about these portraits limits their use. All we know about this portrait is that it was taken in Tauton, Massachusetts. It looks like the 1880s to us and the boys almost surely are brothers. Looking at this portrait it looks to us that the boys were breeched at about 4-5 years of age.

We have not had a great success in finding written sources concerning the age for breeching. Conventions varied a great deal from family to family. There were no clearly accepted ages. We have not found written informtion in fashion magazines. One useful item is an illustration from The Youth's Companion". Unfortunately there does appear to have been an article associated with it. We think that some information may exist in family correspondence, but such letters are very difficult to access. One of the most useful souces of informastion we have found is the photographic record. This is somewhat to use becase the children are often not identified and the age if the children is often not indicated. And additionally many portraits are not dated. Even so, the photographic record is a very useful tool in assessing age conventions over time. Here the images are a little tricky to use. Images of boys in dresses do not tell us when they were breeched, althoufg know at what age they worec dresses. Portraits of boys in trousers provide just the opposite information. The most useful portraits are the ones here with one boy not yet breeched and the other boy breeched. It gives us a reasonably good fix on wshen breeching occurred in this family.


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Created: 8:40 PM 3/28/2006
Last updated: 10:20 PM 3/29/2006