Boys' Clothing Styles during the Mid-19th Century

Boys and girls were still kept in similsr dresses, even past the toddler period--often until about the age of five or six years. Both wore "dresses" of cotton or wool around the house. Occasionally, a boy's dress would still be worn over matching "drawers" or panteletts, which showed beneath the dress, but less fancy than in the early decades of the 19th Century. The usual child's dress was long or short sleeved to suit the season, with slim sleeves, round or boat-shaped neck and the waist was lightly fitted with a set-in belt. Preferred fabrics were linen and cotton, for ease of care.

The Victorians, however, introduced many new styles for boys. Victorian boys, after they graduated from their toddler dresses at about 5 or 6 years of age, were put into various styles of fancy suits. There was the sailor suits of past generations which the Queen helped to popularize even more. There were other new styles such as kilts. Various other styles, including Russian box pleted tunnics with matching bloomers were also popular. Styles were heavily influenced by Britain's Queen Victoria in the mid-19th Century who dressed her sons in kilts and sailor suits. Victoria apparently disliked throwing anything a way, including clothes. Thus the chidren's clothes were available for the grand children. The appearance of the kilt for boys was an innovation as it had virtually disappeared in Scotland. The Victorians were extremely fond of these styles and there popularity carried over into the Edwardian period before the First World War.

As children matured into pre-teen and teen years, their clothing more and more resembled that of adults. Tennage boys in the 19th Century increasingly were dressed in destinctive juvenile fashion, such as knee length pants. This was much less common at mid century. Their duties were adult. They were often aprenticed or went to work by the time they were 12 or 13 years old. There was no "teen culture" as we now know it. Certainly there was no particular fad clothing for youth. Boys often wore hand-me-down clothing of their parents, unless the family was very wealthy. Even wealthy families might pass clothes down. Queen Victoria, for example, reportedly never threw clothes away. In middle class families as well as working class families, it was usual for clothing to be passed down from child to child, even shoes.

Related Links: Careful these links will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site

Clothing in the 1830s
Civil War era reenactors

Christopher Wagner

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