Boy Dresses: Lengths

Figure 1.--This little boy wears a long dress. His name is written on the verso: 'Harry Brizee, Age 26months'. We are not sure why mother has chosen such a long dress. It was not the style at the time, especilly for younger children. Nor does it seem very practical. He is posed by a split-rail garden frence. th cabinet card portrait is undated, but the mount seems to date it to the 1890s. The studio was Hamilton's - no location indicated.

We see boys weatring different lengths pf dresses. The same was true of other skirted garments like skirts and kilt suits. We see dresses with skirt lengths from the knee to the ankle. We do not fully understand the various lengths. We do see some dresses reflecting stlistic changes over time. There were stylistic changes. Empire dresess in the early-19th century were worn down to the ankles. Both women and gils wore the same long dressess. Dress styles in the early-19th century are difficult to follow because photograph was not yet invented. As hems rose they at first wore long pantalettes with them. Shorter dresses were worn with pantalettes in the first half of the 19th century just as girls did. An here age was a factor. Girls began wearing shorter dresses than young women and adults. After mid-century, we have much more information because of the large number of phoytograhic images. Pantalette lengths rose alomg with skirt lengths. Subsequentky long stockings were worn. They do not seem to relate to age or chronological period. Nor does skirt length seem it seem to relate to stylistic trends. Small babies both boys and girls wore very long dresses. This may have been a way of keeping them warm. We are not sure. One source suggests thar the length of the dress was in part an indicator of social class and family status. Again we are not sure. Affluent parents could also afford longer dresses as well as fancier trims. When the boy began to learn to walk, of course such long dresses would be encumerances. Boys began to wear shorter dresses. This varied because we also continue to see boys with long skirted dresses. Thiswas not a gender matter because we also see girls with long dressesas well. This seems to be the case regardless of age or chronological stylistic changes. Except for the shift from long baby dresses, dress length were not a question of age, but stylistic chronological shift of fashionable hem lines. And another factor was surely that children grow. Thus the hem line when the photograph was taken could be different than when the dress was originally purchased or sewn.


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Created: 2:45 AM 3/18/2014
Last updated: 2:45 AM 3/18/2014