Children’s Clothing: History Through Centuries

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Children's Clothing
Children’s Clothing: History Through Centuries

When we look at old photos, that is, pictures of different eras, what may strike us the most is the clothing. Different periods have different styles and fashions. The culture of age largely reflects in the clothing worn by the people of that era. We can also track the changes and evolvement in culture and traditions when we take a look at children’s clothing in different decades and centuries. Children’s clothing may also depict the practices of parenting and nurturing of those eras. For example, in some centuries, little boys and girls were both made to wear robes. This children’s clothing style speaks to the similarity in the way boys and girls were dressed up, but how differently they were raised, meaning that girls were raised to take over homes and the family while boys were made to be breadwinners. These differences did not show up much in the clothing styles. Over the years, it is girls who wear robes more often boys. This is how children’s clothing, especially boys’ clothing, has evolved.

Early Children’s Clothing Attire

Before the 1700-1800s, the clothes that boys and girls wore were rarely different. In today’s world, we see dresses and skirts as clothing associated with women. However, starting from the 1500s up until the 1700s, all children were made to wear long skirts or gowns, regardless of gender. Seeing a photo of these times now, one may think that little boys are dressed in women’s clothing, but it was merely known as children’s clothing back then. Infants were made to wear clothing that was known as “long clothes,” called so because these long clothes were gowns that extended even beyond their feet. By the ages of four to six years, they were made to dress in petticoats, girls and boys alike. During this early period, after growing up, girls went on to wear gowns in their teens as older women wore, while boys traded their petticoats with coats and breeches.

Changes In Boys’ and Girls’ Clothing Over The Centuries

History of Children's Clothing
Children’s Clothing: History Through Centuries

Something called “skeleton suits” came up during the late 1700s for little boys. Skeleton suits were close-fitting suits, named so as well. Skeleton suits consisted of trousers with a collared shirt and jacket on top. During this period, the transition of boys’ clothing was reciprocated as the phases of their young lives. When they wore gowns or petticoats, it meant they were infants. Trading up to skeleton suits said that they had reached boyhood, and when they finally began to wear clothing that resembled what older men would wear – frilled collar shirts with the coats and breeches, it meant that they had arrived at their youth stage of life.

On the other hand, for girls, their clothing styles remained more or less the same. Girls continued to wear dresses, gowns, and skirts for the longest time, until the mid-1900s. While the styles and lengths of the dresses did change, girls’ clothing remained predominantly similar throughout the centuries. After reaching womanhood, girls interchanged back-opening gowns with front-opening puffy gowns.

Modern Children’s Clothing

Today, the color pink is most often associated with girls’ and female clothing, while the color blue is associated with boys’ clothing. However, this was not always the case. People wanted the color pink to be associated with boys. This is because pink is close to red, the color of Mars associated with the god of war, Mars itself. Blue was associated with Venus; hence, it was supposed to be the color for girls. However, this was switched around according to popular choice.

The modern world has shown an increased inching towards making clothes more suited to displaying masculinity. The same is proven by taking a look at how boys’ clothing has been made entirely free of frills and lace, while it is becoming more and more acceptable for women and girls to wear trousers and other kinds of pants. Pants were more of a male subtext, but now children’s clothing for girls also includes pajamas, leggings, jeans, etc. Jeans are the most unisex of all clothes, differing mainly in the cut and style of the same.