Children's clothes in the early 1900s

Written by lauren corona
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Children's clothes in the early 1900s were still rather stiff and formal, often imitating adult fashions of the era or the past. However, clothes were starting to become slightly less restrictive, and easier for children to run and play in. During this period, the gender differences in clothing were much more apparent than they are today, but there still were some similarities.


Girls' clothing at the start of the 20th century was similar to the fashions of the early 1800s. Dresses of the era had short, puffed sleeves are usually were cut around knee length, with a low waistline and frills adorning the hemline. Little girls were dressed commonly in outfits with cape collars, yokes and embroidered hems. Around 1910, less formal tunic and sailor cut dresses became popular, especially for schoolgirls.


At the turn of the 1900s, almost all little boys would be dressed in knee-trousers or knickers and a formal shirt. Shirts tended to be looser around the collar than in previous years, which made them less restrictive for boys. Young boys still were dressed commonly in tunics or dresses. Sailor suits were popular for boys in the early 1900s, as were Fauntleroy-style suits, although their popularity was declining and they usually were worn only for formal occasions.

Colours and Fabrics

For girls' dresses, lighter fabrics than those used in the late 19th century became popular, such as muslin and voile silk. Girls were dressed in pale colours in the early 1900s, white and cream usually were reserved for younger girls and older ones would dress in pastels. Natural fabrics were used for boys during this period. Clothes for hotter months usually were cotton or linen, whereas suits and coats tended to be made of wool. Boys wore darker colours than girls.


Accessories were an essential part of early 20th century children's clothing. Girls wore sashes with their dresses, commonly of yellow, pink or mauve. Hair bows were extremely popular for little girls, as were straw boater hats. Socks were worn three-quarter length. Straw boaters also were popular accessories for boys, along with sailor hats and flat caps. Boys would wear stockings with their knickers or knee-trousers, although young boys sometimes wore short socks.

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