Found this website with an awesome collection of different fashion dolls on it.
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.
I’ve always really liked the ‘dark times’ in England’s history during the 17th century, of course not for the murder of Charles I, but how the English tried to follow the principles of the Puritans, yet always falling back into their old immoral ways. When it comes to the fashion of the 1640’s and 50’s you always think of black and white fabrics, boring, over-sized plain hats and simple coifs, but, was it really that dull?
Having a look at it now in more detail I’ve realised that in their choice of simple clothing they were making their own fashion impacts with subtle details in the large kerchiefs round their necks, trimmed with lace and the large starched ruffs, often trimmed with lace or seriously over-sized.
They also showed a tiny glimmer of embroidery, as can be seen in the portrait above, the bodice is decorated with gold threads, while there is a small embroidered, organic pattern on the coif, perhaps reminding others of the importance of nature and where we all originally come from, Adam and Eve.
Yet it is still possible to distinguish the rich and poor from each other, which perhaps wasn’t the puritan believe but more about rich women following the fashions of the day.
This portrait above possibly shows how fashion was beginning to develop into the beautiful colours and silks and satin’s of the 1660’s, nearer the end of the Cromwellian period. The detailed embroidered silks on the under-skirt, the opened exposed sleeves and bodice with intricate detail all demonstrate a part of history moving forward, while the contrasting black and white and large kerchief show a society continued belief in a conservative form of fashionable attire.
These simple dress codes spread across both sides of the English civil war however, the Royalist also demonstrating their preference for simple dress in their portraits of the day as much as the parliamentarians.
The dark, simple military Armour became popular among both groups after Peter Lely’s defining portrait of Oliver Cromwell with ‘warts and all’. The Puritans simple taste also inspired future generations of sombre fashions, such as the Victorians in their period of modesty with simple lace trimming on cuffs and neckerchiefs reaching over the shoulders. Perhaps it’s not boring and just needs more observation?