Little Boys in Frilly Dresses – Part Two

Carrying on from where i left off, like forever-a-go; at the beginning of the 19th century little boys dresses were still focused on the  practicality of the late 18th century.

They still resemble the style of adult fashion, as little William Scott-elliott’s tunic shows, yet the shorts begin to separate him from his female siblings and give him access to the free and easy spirit every child should have.

Yet it didn’t take long before the child was old enough to dress as an adult, a practice going back as long as they can document fashion.

As the century went along, the fashion for young boys and girls began to merge again with it becoming very difficult to be able to tell fashions apart. This dress above was worn by Prince Edward, Queen Victoria first son and the future king as a baby in the early 1840’s. You can tell this because Edward is painted in a portrait wearing it, an outfit that would have suited a boy or a girl.

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Jane Austen Festival

The Jane Austen Festival was really amazing, due to family circumstances i wasn’t able to finish my costumes but me and my partner had a lovely time. Besides visiting all the sites we ran around all over Bath just to follow the festival which has resulted in a video i have had to edit due to my constant swearing… which i’ve put down to my excitement.

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I wrote this Blog post a week ago thinking it wouldn’t take very long for me to upload the video i made of the promenade, turns out it took forever, but it’s finished now and here it is.

The Life of a Seamstress

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I recently discovered that my Great, Great Grandmother was a seamstress in the 1860’s in the little village that i live in now and i’ve always wanted to know how hard they used to work and feel it for myself. I found this quote on the old internet from the ‘Children’s employment commision’, which wasn’t very encouraging..

EVIDENCE TAKEN BY Children’s Employment Commission
February 1841
Miss — has been for several years in the dress-making business…The common hours of business are from 8 a.m. til 11 P.M in the winters; in the summer from 6 or half-past 6 A.M. til 12 at night. During the fashionable season, that is from April til the latter end of July, it frequently happens that the ordinary hours are greatly exceeded; if there is a drawing-room or grand fete, or mourning to be made, it often happens that the work goes on for 20 hours out of the 24, occasionally all night….The general result of the long hours and sedentary occupation is to impair seriously and very frequently to destroy the health of the young women. The digestion especially suffers, and also the lungs: pain to the side is very common, and the hands and feet die away from want of circulation and exercise, “never seeing the outside of the door from Sunday to Sunday.” [One cause] is the short time which is allowed by ladies to have their dresses made. Miss is sure that there are some thousands of young women employed in the business in London and in the country. If one vacancy were to occur now there would be 20 applicants for it. The wages generally are very low…Thinks that no men could endure the work enforced from the dress-makers.

Sounds pretty awful really, can’t have been long before they were crippled by back pain, my Great, Great Grandmother only did it  for about three or four years before she got married, i can imagine that it must have been a relief for her to get married.

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I also read somewhere else, lost it now, that they only took three breaks throughout the day and lunch was about 20 minutes, though i imagine it would have varied depending on who they worked for.

I also wrote down a quote from the BBC period drama The Paradise, the older dressmaker who is being put out of business by the blossoming department store remembers “times in the old days when we had to produce a dress overnight… a real dressmaker is an artist, he needs to know flawless stitching, to cut finely and have a delicate eye, but more than anything else we need to know people, a women will love a dress because it was made to fit her character, not just her body” “a secret beauty”. I thought this was really lovely and encourages me to keep going and learn as much as i can.

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So, i’m going to try and complete a day as a seamstress, all 20 hours of it and see how much i can achieve.

Fashion Doll Discovery

Found this website with an awesome collection of different fashion dolls on it.

Little Boys in Frilly Dresses! – Part One

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.

Above is George III youngest daughters Mary, Sophia and Amelia.

 

 

Women’s Redingote

A Redingote is a tight fitted coat that first appeared at the beginning of the 18th Century. Women were first wearing them as part of their riding habits, they were heavy, bulky garments that consisted of a large masculine style waistcoat underneath that stretched over the very large hooped petticoats of the first half of the 1700’s, while separating slightly at the centre. It was designed to mirror the male waistcoats and jackets of the time, with little pockets and buttons just visible underneath to add to the overall masculinity of the outfit.

The jacket mirrors every bit of the male counterpart, including the large, folded over cuffs and heavy embroidery; yet the sleeves are slightly further back, allowing for linen sleeves with lace to be shown, adding a feminine touch. The women even matched it down to the lace cravats the men wore from their unbuttoned waistcoats. 

In the 1780’s they really became popular, due to the French who now made it fashionable. At this time they were inspired by mens fashions of the day while also becoming perfectly tailored little coats. In some cases the coats were dark (as it was fashionable to wear them with a muslin dress underneath) that met at the chest and gradually descends down towards the back where they meet the top layer skirt that only goes half way round the whole petticoats. There is a embroidered waistcoat underneath that has a masculine touch with large buttons and small cuffs; there is also large, flat collars above on the jacket that continue this theme.

There were other varieties in this period, often inspired by military uniforms or their favorite political party, while other jackets were closed, supported by large frilly collars of muslin neatly around the neck. 

The Redingote continued until the late 19th century; in the regency period it followed the fashionable empire line of day, becoming a long pleated coat from underneath the bust, with a simple jacket and flat collar. They often had short detailed outer sleeves above a long sleeve, which went down to the wrist. The detail on the sleeves and coat was also military inspired, which is repeated all over the coat and dress. 

  The Redingote waned during the mid Victorian period, mainly being used again for riding habits, while resembling the early 1700’s shape.

Women’s shape began to change from the large crinolines of the 1850’s and as fashion changed, returning to a almost updated version of the regency empire line, the Redingote came back into fashion. The two piece bodice and skirt outfit that began to dominate the later part of the 19th century would also consist of a jacket, in most cases a simply design with more frills and patterns while the hem would float over the skirt.

In the 1880’s this became a tighter fit, with the same detail with fabric cascading down the back, reminiscent of the polonaise dress.

The 1890’s saw a return to short coats with frills and detail that was fashionable in the 1780’s, yet fashion choose a more feminine approach with lighter colours and a more natural body shape.