children's clothing

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Lane wore her new Hercules dress to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday. Mommy made it out of a pair of valances she found at a thrift store for $2. 

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Once again, it’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT! All the time I get asked: In past centuries, why did little boys wear dresses? The answer is simple- it’s all about practicality.

You have all seen the images, whether it be in art or in the movies, of the little 18th Century toddler wearing a frilly white dress. Girls and boys both sported the look. The first thought is probably, why dress such a young child in such a pristine look? Kids are so messy! Were the child in a delicate silk, then yes, it would be highly impractical. But a durable cotton or linen was another story. Mothers throughout history dressed their children in white for the same reason so many parents dress their children in white today- you can bleach the hell out of it. In the days before washing machines and Clorox for Colors, a lot of outerwear would only be spot cleaned. Of course, wealthy families would dress their children in colors and fine fabrics occasionally, typically for special occasions and such. This is important to keep in mind when you see portraits, which are often over-exaggerations of reality.

Wearing a dress was far more practical for both genders. Remember, spandex and stretchy fabrics did not exist. Try to imagine trying to coax a squirming baby into a pair of structured trousers with button closures. Seems like it’d be challenging, to say the least- not to mention how uncomfortable it would be for the child. Now think about the fact that babies grow by the day. With no stretch to the fabric, children would be growing out of their trousers every few weeks. This is also why children in the 5-10ish age range would wear short pantaloons or knickers- since they were cropped already, they hid growth better.

Finally, there was the diaper factor. These days, so much has been done to make the diaper changing process as simple as possible- disposable diapers with stretchy sides and tape closures, onesies that literally come off with a snap, and wet wipes, ready to use and toss as necessary. In past centuries, though, dresses were the best option to simplify changing diapers.

There are many rumors that dressing both genders the same as infants was due to high infant mortality rates, that by not distinguishing genders could make loosing a child slightly less difficult. This is just a rumor. Though both genders wore dresses, there were distinguishing features. Hair styles were the most common (once long enough to be cut.) By toddler years, when children were old enough to have some structure to their clothing, girls’ bodices would mimic adults, while boys’ would often button up front. Trims would also reflect the respective adult versions.

When boys reached the age when they were fully toilet-trained, they would be breeched- aka, they would begin wearing trousers. The occasion was a very big deal, and typically marked the point where fathers became more involved in raising their sons.

Want to learn more about historical infant clothing? Check out these books:

Children’s Clothes Since 1750, by Clare Rose

Clothes and the Child: A Handbook of Children’s Dress in England, 1500-1900, by Anne Buck

Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!

#277 Because of Batman's wife.

The lack of female superheroes and the complete ignorance about how little girls actually can admire (rather than have a crush on) male superheroes must be puzzling the clothing industry at the moment. Because look what they came up with:

This first picture is from a Target store in Canada:

And this t-shirt was found in the junior’s section in a Walmart in the U.S.

You won’t ever be able to accomplish great things, little girl. But you can marry a man that does!” Oh, Target & Walmart, the 1950’s called. They want their sexism back.

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Louis B Kids

Louis B Kids is a New Jersey based online shopping destination for parents + kids. Our team searches around the globe to bring you the best brands,well known and emerging. Here, you can find a place of risk, fashion savvy products to create an epic wardrobe for your kid(s) and a little something for yourself. We believe that helping your kid(s) express who they are through fashion is the way to go. It allows room for creativity, art, and imagination. Expect to experience a one of a kind shopping experience, followed by fast shipping and exceptional Customer Service.

http://www.louisbboutique.com/

Also check out the IG so cute! 

https://www.instagram.com/louisbkids/

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Collection’s Highlight: Child’s Silk Dress 

I want to call this “A Tiny Tiny Child’s Silk Dress” because it is so little. Love the buttons, sorry the picture is a bit blurry, hard to photo those little guys. No date again, sorry! 

Dress, date unknown, silk, L 21 in. The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Miss Lucy Comstock, N0201.1971(05).