Saturday, January 30, 2010

Victorian clothing, part II-Children

Several examples of children's clothing were displayed at the Chemung County Historical Society's featured exhibit, Fabrics of our Lives, Great Life Moments Through Clothing, 1860-1900.

This pair of Amethyst silk taffeta mother-daughter gowns inspired my imagination. Dated from the 1880's, they featured a bustle for the mother's gown, and the mid-calf length of a young girl's frock of approximately ten years of age. The buttons of these gowns resembled a cluster of tiny beads, rather like orange raspberries.

Here, a lad's navy blue zouave suit is pictured, modeled after the French zouave military uniforms of the era. Circa 1860's. It is of wool, and the black embroidery was almost mint condition. A handsome figure this little suit must have cut!

This Little Lord Fauntelroy-styled suit in dark green velvet reflects a style that enjoyed great popularity after the famed novel character. Note the eyelet lace cuffs, and the inset photo of the original owner of the suit. Boys' and girls' clothing was not differentiated until the age of three or four years, during which both wore white gowns. A boy was considered "breeched" once he had his first set of pants.

This pair of girl's dresses were owned and worn by Samuel Clemens' (aka Mark Twain) nieces. Clemens married an Elmira girl named Olivia, daughter of the notable Jervis Langdon family. These gowns date from the 1880's. The scarlet red silk gown boasts a print robe with a long train, and silk ribbons in startlingly pristine condition. This was my favorite article of clothing in the entire exhibit.

A small girl's dress and white cotton pinafore are shown here. The simplicity of the stitching and lack of embellishment indicate this little cotton frock was owned and worn by the child of a working class family, likely aged four to five years. From the 1860's.


  1. Wow! These are wonderful. I have never seen children's clothing of this area. The little boys are precious. Love these clothing blogs Kathy.

  2. Another good entry. Love the little blue boy's Zouve suit.