I don’t know if anybody else has noticed that little boys before the first world war always wore little frilly dresses, just like the ones their sisters were wearing. I collected loads of photo’s of the Russian royal family from the internet after reading about them and bought several books (The Camera and the Tsars: The Romanov Family in Photographs and Queen Victoria’s Family, both by Charlotte Zeepvat) which had loads of photos like this.
After researching these little boys fashions i found that before the first world war its has always been like this.
The above are picture of boys, the little boy in the pink dress is American and would have continued to wear dresses until he was breeched, which i guess has something to do with boys in earlier times wearing breeches when they were considered a child and not a toddler anymore. Also in this photo, the young boy’s bodice has no point going down as a young girls would (which would have been following the line of the corset underneath) which is something that would have made the two sexes distinguishable.
You can also see this here with the three eldest children of the Prince of Wales, the two children sitting are the future George III and his brother Edward. Edward is wearing a similar dress to the boy above while George’s dress is very similar to his sister’s Augusta’s, yet they are distinguishable by the cut in George’s Bodice which the pointed edge is atached to his apron, while his sisters bodice has a pointed edge with no cut.
Later on the fashions became more blurred, with practicality taking precedence over rules and symbols as children were becoming more playful and free in there portraits. Above is two boys playing with each other and animals, unrestricted by lace and stiff bodices. While young girls were portrayed in similar scenes and demonstrating that fashion had inevitably moved on, they still had the stiff pointed bodices over their restricting corsets, perhaps predicting the strict fashion code and social codes they would have to follow later in their lives.