Children's Clothes in 1840

Written by camela bryan
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Children's Clothes in 1840
Infants wore long gowns to keep their legs warm. (Baby feet image by Platinum Pictures from

Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837 and her style choices influenced fashion for the rest of the decade. In the 1840s girls' clothing was mostly a miniature version of what adult ladies were wearing although younger girls wore shorter skirts. Boys were dressed like girls until they were four. Then they wore simple practical clothing.


Until they could walk, Victorian infants wore very long gowns, 5-feet or more from shoulder to hem. The gowns were often white and made of a light weight fabric. Flannel under gowns often buttoned together at the hem for warmth.

Young Girls

When they began standing, very young girls were put into gowns with a full skirt. Toddler girls often wore necklines that revealed the shoulders. The skirt reached to the knees and was held out with several petticoats. The fabrics were heavier and more heavily trimmed than they had been earlier in the century. The dyes of the time were vegetable based and produced soft muted colours that suited young children. The short gowns revealed wide pantalettes that reached to the ankle. White stockings and flat black shoes completed the outfit.

Older Girls

As girls got older their dresses became longer. Their skirts were full with many petticoats holding them out. The styles were similar to the women's dresses of the time with V-shaped waists and dropped shoulders. Dress styles with bare shoulders were won by girls until age ten or so. Girls continued to wear the same pantalettes, white stocking and flat black shoes worn by younger girls, although the pantalettes did not show under the longer skirts. Girls wore their hair short and parted in the middle as Queen Victoria wore hers. The hair was either combed behind the ears or styled into corkscrew curls.

Young Boys

Until the age of four young boys wore the same type of gowns as young girls. Toddler boys wore off-the shoulder necklines and full skirts with elaborate trim. They also wore lace trimmed pantalettes and little flat shoes. Boys wore their hair parted on one side or occasionally parted on both sides with the centre hair brushed back or fluffed up. The part is often the only way to determine the sex of children in photos of the era.

Older boys.

At age four or five boys were "breached," or began wearing trousers. They wore a practical outfit of ankle length trousers that were buttoned to their shirts. The buttons could be lowered as the boys grew. They also wore short simple jackets. They dressed this way until their early teens when they began wearing men's clothing.

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