my little boy wants to wear a dress
Raye - posted on 05/17/2016
Let him wear a kilt, then see how it goes. He may lose interest, or he may want a real dress. Who cares? Thousands of photographs from the mid- and late-19th century show boys wearing dresses and this does not even count the images of boys with long hair who are commonly seen as girls in these old images. It was done across class barriers for centuries and it continued to the turn-of-the 20th century across Europe and even in the USA.
A little history lesson: Throughout the medieval period men and women dressed similarly in long skirted garments. Women's dresses were somewhat different, but the basic garments were quite similar. Younger boys simply continued the long established practice of wearing skirted garments. So actually the question should be, why did men STOP wearing skirted garments or gowns?
Male fashion began to change in the Renaissance when younger men began wearing tunics with long hose rather like tights. These long hose gradually evolved into pantaloons or modern trousers. It is at this point that boys and men's clothing diverged. Boys continued to wear dresses through most of the 19th century. It did not entirely disappear and we continued to see a few boys in dresses until after World War I. After the War, however, it became the exception rather than the rule. Only infants wore dresses.
What caused this shift is not well documented, but one piece may be that younger children were no longer closeted within the family, most boys began school at age 6 years. Many school uniforms for boys included a jacket and either trousers or shorts. And their little brothers wanted to dress as their older siblings. Modern media also exploded at the turn-of-the century. Newspapers and magazines could print photographs for the first time. Movies began to become popular. This meant that popular fashion became increasingly pronounced. People become more gender conscious, promoted by advertising companies. Some people at the time, most prominently President Teddy Roosevelt, were stressing that boys had to be "real boys" and the word "sissy" then began to be used more frequently. So, really media and bullies changed the culture in less than a century.
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