September 06, 2006

A Historical Children's Clothing Tour

I love to study children's fashions. Children's clothing is difficult to study because there is not much primary source material available. A primary source would be photographs, actual clothing items, store catalogs, and old sewing patterns. Another difficulty is a lack of interest. The assumption of many clothing historians is that children's clothing was either simple, utilitarian pieces or imitations of adult clothing. There is some truth to the idea. An online tour of a children's clothing collection at the University of Wisconsin shows that a child's mitten or glove is similar to an adult in shape and function. But if you look through the baby bibs, you can see the ingenuity and creativity in a simple, utilitarian object. (By the way, you have to agree to certain terms and conditions to view the collection, which also prevented me from reproducing pictures here).

Speaking of the bibs on the site, I could see a modern re-interpretation of some of the ideas. The exception might be the bibs with straps or drawstrings as those may have safety issues. Bibs were knitted, crocheted, or sewn - simple, delicate, or fancy. Surely, new mothers of the day did pay attention to necessary, utilitarian clothing items.

I took 3 history of costume classes in college and none of them really talked about children's clothing. I did a quick browse at Amazon and found three books I wish I could look at more closely. Most books on the subject start in the Victorian age. There seems to be more information available for that time period and forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment