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5 Facts About Victorian Children's Clothing

Updated March 23, 2017

The Victorian Era lasted from 1837 to 1901. Most children during that time were not from wealthy, privileged families. It was common practice for them to wear clothes that had been purchased used and handed down. Even children who were better off did not usually have many clothes.

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Facts 1 and 2: Girls Wore Layers and Dresses were Short

Victorian Era girls typically dressed in layers. They typically wore a loose chemise or shift, along with stockings, drawers or knickers, stays and two or more petticoats. Over these pieces, they would wear a short-sleeved dress and top it with a cloak or shawl, according to DickensVictorianVillage.com. Girls from wealthy families tended to wear petticoats and dresses which were more like miniature reproductions of women's dresses, with many decorative details. However, the skirts were usually short. Skirts and blouses became fashionable in the 1890s.

Fact 3: Young Boys Wore Dresses

Boys traditionally wore dresses until about the age of 5 to make it easier to change their diapers. Dresses for boys usually had metal buttons instead of buttons covered in fabric. Older boys wore knickers, shirts, coats and caps. Boys from the upper classes might wear a Fauntleroy suit consisting of a velvet jacket, breeches and a lace collar. In the late 19th century, sailor suits became fashionable for boys and girls after Queen Victoria dressed her oldest son in them.

Fact #4: Babies Always Wore White

Mothers would dress their babies in long flannel or cotton petticoats, lacy caps and sometimes a cape. More prosperous families purchased more elaborate infant outfits decorated with embroidery and lace. It was customary for babies to wear white garments. It became very fashionable to wheel babies about in carriages, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Fact 5: Bare Feet were Common

Many children had to go without shoes because their families could not afford to buy them. In the winter, many stuffed newspaper into their clothes to stay warm. Patched and mended clothing was common, and often used adult clothing would be recycled to make children's clothing. Often children wore pinafores to keep their clothes clean. Wealthier children at private schools might have school uniforms.

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About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.

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