Figure 1.--This photograph shows an American boy in 1906 wearing a tartan kilt skirt with a dark Russian blouse. Note that the kilt is not pleated.
Some kilts, mostly in America, were worn essentially as skirts. These were worn with no Highland regalia like sporans, dirks, and tartan kneesocks. We still have limited information on this style, but we have begun to collect basic information. The skirts do appear to be mostly tartan. They were also not worn with as part of the kilts suits that were so popular with American boys in the late 19th century. We are not sure about the chronology. Available images are available from the 1880s, but they may have been worn earlier. Rather they are in essenmce simply tartan skirts. Nany of the skirts do not appeasr to be pleated. These skirts were worn as part of a large number of different outfits. Usually they were worn with long stockings. The boys wore many varied headgear and had diverse hair styles.
Some kilts, mostly in America, were worn essentially as skirts. We have only noted this style in America. This may well be simply a reflection of HBC's primary access to American material. We do not know for a fact that these skirts were not worn by boys in other countries.
We are not sure about the chronology. Available images are available from the 1880s, but they may have been worn earlier.
The garments are clearly worn as skilrts and not kilts, although they well have veen referred to as kilts by the mothers. These were worn with no Highland regalia like sporans, dirks, and tartan kneesocks. They were also worn after the turn of the century, but appear to be much less common by the 1910s.
The major cocession to kilt styling was the material. Most of these skirts were tyartan. Generally they were the type of muted tartan patterns worn with kilt suits rather than the bold patterns generally worn as Highland kilt garments.
There appear to be two different types of skirts worn. One type appears to be the kilt skirts worn with kilt suits which generally had a front pannel, often decorated with buttons. Another type appears to be a straigt skirt. We do not yet have enough information to address the pleating. Actual kilts were heavily pleated. Some of these skirts had no pleating at all. Others may have had some, this needs more research.
Kilt skirts were worn part of the kilts suits that were so popular with American boys in the late 19th century. These skirts were also worn as part of a large number of different outfits. The outfits varied from the standard kilt suit to outfits with a variety of blouses from the popular middy blouse to Fauntleroy blouses.
The Scottish kilt was never extensively worn by American boys, despite the sizeable number of Scottish Americans. A related garment, however, the kilt suit, was very commonly worn by two generations of American boys. I believe that the style was also widely worn in England and to a lesser extent in France. Its popularity in Germany and other continental countries, however, appears more limited, although admittedly I have little information on these
A formal outfit might be the kilt skirt worn with a fancy Fauntleroy blouse.
A less formal approach was to wear the kiltskirt with the popular middy blouse. While this might be suitable for everyday wear, a lace collar could be added for more formal occassions. We suspect that this outfit may have been a way of wearing a kilt suit for less formal occasions. What confuses us here is that you would have thought that for a studio portrait, a boy would have presumably been dressed up in his best outfit.
The boy on this page wears a Russian blouse. This was not, however, a common combination.
Usually they were worn with long stockings. The boys wore many varied headgear. The sailor hat was the most common, but a variety of other caps were also worn.
HBC is not sure about the conventioins involved here. There are several possibilites. This could be a seasonal style. Boys might have kilt suits, but wear the kilt skirt without the jacket and vest during the warm summer months. Some mothers, however, might have only bought the kilt skirt and not the jacket. HBC notes, however, that contemporary clothing catalogs usually sold these garments sold as suit and not as individual components. Another possibility is that some of these outfits may have been worn as casual outfits, much as the actual kilt might be worn in the Highlands with a sweater.
The boys wearing these kilt skirts had diverse hair styles.
The image here shows a boy named Tom. Written on the back "Age 5 years, 5 mo. April 6th, 1906 3'8" tall, 40# weight". Printed at the bottom is "little Tom". There is no doubt the child is a boy. The short hair except the bow looks rather boyish to me. The child appears to be wear a tam. Boys at the time wore tams, but I'm not sure how common it was for girls. The shirt is a Russian blouse, commonly worn by boys. The kilt skirt would suggest a boy, I think tartan was not realmstylish for girls in the 1890s. The shoes/stockings are gender neutral. The boy in figure 1 interestingly wears a hair bow. It is difficult to tell what kind of hair style he wears. The boy appears to have a short hair cut, but you can not tell how the hair is styled in the back where the hairbow is. He looks to be 7-8 years old.
A HBC reader has inquired about this portrait. How old do you think the boy is? His lace collar is very delicate. His hair
appears to be newly cut. That could be for the studio photograph or it could be the took the picture
because he had just had his first short hair cut. The staw hat is something I would comment on. I
think it is worth a statement. The plaid skirt of his kilt suit appears to have buttons down it, though it
just may be the photo. The bow he is wearing on his collar is also worth noting. I maybe wrong but
his blouse may be a sailor styled blouse with the lace collar attached. What are your thoughts? I
also would make mention of the button shoes. Do you know the approximate year of the photo?
Finally and this may also be the photo, but I think the stockings are a lighter color than normal dark
tones. It seems to be a lighter shade than the blouse or kilt.
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