1. Introduction

2. Children’s clothes at the end of the 19th century.

3. Children’s clothes in the twentieth century.

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The theme of children’s clothes is very interesting and attractive for researching. It reflects not only the peculiarities of culture, fashion, traditions and historical development of the society, but also social, psychological and economic background of the epoch, in which children’s clothes are worn. The way the children are dressed was and still is a determinative factor of certain tendencies in the constantly developing society. Analyzing children’s clothes at different periods of time, one can see what social, political and economic changes the society undergoes and what influence they have on the development of children’s clothing.

For example, at the end of the nineteenth century more attention is paid to physical activities at school, so one can notice the tendency to wear clothes loose and comfortable enough for free movement.[1] Another illustration would be the difference of clothes, worn by the children belonging to different social classes.

On that score we are going to pay attention to a huge contrast between children’s clothes at the end of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century. Moreover we shall have a look at the development and changes of children’s fashion throughout the twentieth century. At this period of time one can observe a rash, intensive and contrasting progress and evolution of children’s outfit, which is accompanied by many significant events. So, the aim of the paper is to research the contrasts and the dynamics of children’s clothes’ development at the end of the nineteenth, the beginning and throughout the twentieth century and to analyze the historical and social environment, which determined children’s fashion during this period. We are going to refer to some definitions and notions, characteristic of children’s clothes.

2. Children’s clothes at the end of the 19th century.

The second half of the nineteenth century is a very interesting period for researching, because, on the one hand, it still preserves the old traditions of children’s fashion, on the other hand, new tendencies can be distinguished in children’s dress.

The amount of complicated clothing worn by children during the late nineteenth century is astonishing today. A girl’s attire of this period consists of a dress, stockings, shoes and underwear. The latter includes vest, chemise, stays, stocking suspenders and a flannel petticoat. A chemise is “a woman's sleeveless undergarment”[2]. Towards the end of the century cotton chemises are replaced by woollen ones and later they are replaced by machine-knitted vests, as the result of the industrialization.[3]

Stays or a corset are no more in fashion and with the introduction of physical activities in schools stays are abolished. The most important innovation of the 1890s is the yoked dress that is an alternative to dresses with a corset. A petticoat is also a sort of the underskirt made of linen or cotton, worn by women and girls to make the dress look fuller. Petticoats become less full in the 1890s, but a flannel and cotton one remains. Girls’ clothing of the late nineteenth century is completed with numerous aprons and pinafores, hats and bonnets, jackets, coats, cloaks, gloves and mittens, parasols and umbrellas. Exchanging a pinafore for an apron is a sign of growing up.[4]

The second half of the nineteenth century is historically a period of the so-called Victorian age in England. “Woman question” is raised and passionately debated in the British society; as a consequence changes in girls’ education are undertaken. A special attention is paid to physical education of girls at schools. The girls of that period have to take classes not only in dancing, callisthenics, but also exercises in deportment, walking and gymnastics. As a result, the skirts get shorter and looser, what makes girls’ movements easier during their gymnastics’ classes. New type of gymnastic dress appears in the 1890s. It is a gym tunic without sleeves with wide pleats, falling from a girdle and held by a belt. There is a slight difference between the girls attending schools and those receiving traditional education at home. The first belong to lower classes and are likely to wear plain, tailored styles; the latter wear more elaborate materials.[5]


[1] Buck, Anne. Clothes and the Child. Carlton, Bedford: Ruth Bean Publishers, 1996, p. 229.

[2] http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/dings.cgi?lang=de&service=dict-en&opterrors=0&optpro=0&query=chemise&dlink=self&comment= 30. 10.2006, 15:52

[3] Buck, Anne. Clothes and the Child. Carlton, Bedford: Ruth Bean Publishers, 1996, p. 240.

[4] Buck, Anne. Clothes and the Child. Carlton, Bedford: Ruth Bean Publishers, 1996, 230-237

[5] Buck, Anne. Clothes and the Child. Carlton, Bedford: Ruth Bean Publishers, 1996, p. 228-229


ISBN (eBook)
File size
380 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
University of Osnabrück
Children English Children’s Festivals



Title: Children and clothing