July 15, 2024

Have you ever wondered what children wore 200 years ago? Explore the fascinating world of children’s fashion in the past and discover how it has evolved over time. In this article, we will take a journey back in time to uncover the clothing styles of children from the 18th and 19th centuries. From frilly dresses to little jackets, we will learn about the different types of clothing that were popular during this era. We will also explore how these clothing styles reflected the social and economic conditions of the time. So, come along and join us on this exciting journey through the history of children’s fashion!

How Children Dressed 200 Years Ago

Clothing Materials Used in the Past

When examining how children dressed 200 years ago, it is important to consider the materials that were used to make their clothing. These materials were often dictated by factors such as social status, geographic location, and available resources.

  • Natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and linen were the most commonly used materials for children’s clothing. These fibers were not only readily available but were also affordable and durable.
  • Expensive materials like silk and lace, on the other hand, were reserved for the wealthy. These materials were often used to create elaborate and ornate clothing items, such as dresses and hats, that served as status symbols of wealth and prestige.

In addition to these materials, children’s clothing may have also included fabrics imported from other countries. For example, imports from India included fine muslins and calicos, while imports from China included silks and brocades. These imported fabrics added a touch of exoticism and luxury to children’s clothing, even for those who could not afford the most expensive materials.

It is also worth noting that the color of clothing was often dictated by the materials used. For example, natural fibers like cotton and linen were typically dyed with natural dyes, such as indigo, to create a range of colors. Silk, on the other hand, could be dyed in a wider range of colors, including vibrant shades like red and purple.

Overall, the clothing materials used in the past played a significant role in shaping the way children dressed 200 years ago. The use of natural fibers, expensive materials, and imported fabrics all contributed to the wide range of styles and fashions that emerged during this time period.

Common Clothing Items for Children

In the past 200 years, children’s clothing has undergone significant changes, reflecting the social and economic conditions of the time. Here are some common clothing items that were worn by children during that era:

  • Smocks and Frocks for Girls: Smocks were loose-fitting dresses that were commonly worn by young girls. They were made of simple, white cotton or linen fabrics and often had a lace or embroidered hem. Frocks, on the other hand, were more formal dresses that were typically worn on special occasions. They were also made of lightweight fabrics like cotton or muslin and were often decorated with lace or ribbons.
  • Shirts and Breeches for Boys: Boys’ clothing was typically more practical and functional than girls’ clothing. Shirts were the most common garment for boys and were often made of cotton or linen. They were usually worn underneath a jacket or waistcoat and were fastened with buttons or laces. Breeches were the equivalent of pants for boys and were worn over their shirts. They were typically made of wool or cotton and were designed to be comfortable and durable.
  • Aprons and Caps for Both Boys and Girls: Aprons were a common accessory for both boys and girls and were often worn over their dresses or shirts. They were made of lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen and were decorated with lace or embroidery. Caps were also popular and were worn by both boys and girls to keep their hair out of their faces. They were typically made of wool or cotton and were designed to be practical and functional.

How Clothing Was Passed Down

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the passing down of clothing from older children to younger siblings was a common practice. This was largely due to the high cost of new clothing, which made it difficult for families to afford new garments for each child.

Therefore, as soon as an older child outgrew their clothes, they would be passed down to the next sibling in line. This was not only a way to save money but also a practical solution for families who lived in rural areas where shopping for new clothes was not easily accessible.

Moreover, hand-me-downs were not only limited to siblings within the same family. Clothing could also be passed down to cousins, neighbors, or even friends. This practice was particularly common in communities where people had fewer financial resources and had to rely on each other for support.

In addition to passing down clothes, families would often modify and alter the garments to make them fit the new wearer. This included taking in seams, letting out hems, and adding new buttons or laces. These alterations ensured that the clothes would fit the new wearer properly and extend their lifespan.

Despite the practicality of passing down clothes, there were also social implications associated with wearing hand-me-downs. Children who wore second-hand clothes were often subject to teasing and ridicule from their peers, which could affect their self-esteem and social interactions.

Overall, the passing down of clothing from older children to younger siblings was a common practice 200 years ago due to the high cost of new clothes. While it was a practical solution for families, it also had social implications that affected the self-esteem and social interactions of children who wore hand-me-downs.

Influence of Social Class on Children’s Clothing

Key takeaway: The way children dressed 2000 years ago was heavily influenced by social class, with upper class children wearing luxurious materials and elaborate designs, while working class children wore simpler, more practical clothing that was often passed down within the family or community. In addition, fashion trends for children’s clothing were heavily influenced by adult fashion trends of the time, with popular colors and prints reflecting the sentimental and romantic values of the era. Technology has also had a significant impact on children’s fashion in recent years, with increased access to fashion trends through media and a greater focus on sustainability and ethical production.

Upper Class Children’s Clothing

Upper class children’s clothing in the past reflected the wealth and status of their families. The following are some of the characteristics of upper class children’s clothing from 200 years ago:

  • High-quality materials such as silk and lace: Upper class children were dressed in the finest materials that were available at the time. Silk was a popular choice for both boys and girls, as it was a luxurious fabric that was associated with wealth and status. Lace was also commonly used, as it added a touch of elegance to the clothing.
  • Expensive accessories like bonnets and ribbons: Accessories played an important role in upper class children’s clothing. Bonnets were a common accessory for girls, as they were seen as a symbol of modesty and femininity. Ribbons were also used to add a touch of color and elegance to the clothing.
  • Fine embroidery and intricate designs: Upper class children’s clothing often featured fine embroidery and intricate designs. This added to the overall luxury and sophistication of the clothing, and was a way for families to show off their wealth and status.

Middle Class Children’s Clothing

In the past, the clothing of middle-class children was simple yet functional, reflecting the values and priorities of their families. The clothing was often made from practical materials such as cotton and wool, which were readily available and affordable. These materials were also durable and could withstand the wear and tear of active childhood play.

One of the most common practices among middle-class families was the passing down of clothing from older siblings or cousins. This allowed for the reuse of clothing and helped to conserve resources. Hand-me-downs were often modified to fit the younger child, such as shortening the sleeves or hemline, and were a practical way for families to provide their children with the necessary clothing for growth and development.

In addition to practicality, middle-class children’s clothing also reflected the prevailing fashion trends of the time. While the styles may have been more conservative than those for adults, they still reflected the latest trends in fabric patterns, colors, and cuts. Middle-class families wanted their children to look well-dressed and presentable, and therefore invested in clothing that was both functional and fashionable.

Overall, the clothing of middle-class children 200 years ago was a reflection of the values and priorities of their families, as well as the fashion trends of the time. The emphasis on practicality, durability, and functionality was balanced with a desire to dress children in styles that were both appropriate and fashionable.

Working Class Children’s Clothing

The clothing of working class children in the past reflected the practical and functional nature of their lives. As they were often involved in manual labor or other physically demanding activities, their clothing was designed to be durable and long-lasting.

Clothing was often practical and functional

The clothing of working class children was designed to meet the practical needs of their daily lives. This meant that clothing was often simple and functional, with a focus on durability and practicality rather than fashion or style.

Less emphasis on fashion and more on durability

As working class children did not have the same level of economic resources as their wealthier counterparts, they had to make do with clothing that was often handed down from older siblings or cousins. This meant that there was less emphasis on fashion and more on ensuring that the clothing was able to withstand the rigors of daily life.

Clothing was often passed down within the family or community

In order to make the most of their limited resources, working class families often relied on passing down clothing from one generation to the next. This meant that children would often wear the same clothing as their older siblings or cousins, and that hand-me-downs were a common sight in working class communities. Additionally, clothing was often shared within the community, with neighbors and friends passing clothing along to those in need.

Fashion Trends in Children’s Clothing 200 Years Ago

Influence of Royalty on Children’s Fashion

In the past, children of royalty had a significant impact on the fashion trends of upper-class children. Their attire was often a reflection of the opulence and extravagance of the royal court. As a result, the clothing for royal children was often elaborate and ornate, featuring intricate designs, expensive materials, and embellishments such as beading, lace, and embroidery.

Royal children were often dressed in clothing that mimicked the styles of their parents, with miniature versions of adult attire. For example, young princes would wear suits and waistcoats, while princesses would wear dresses with elaborate sashes and bows. These ensembles were often made of rich fabrics such as silk, satin, and velvet, and were adorned with jewels, gold thread, and other precious embellishments.

In addition to their elaborate attire, royal children also wore crowns, tiaras, and other regal accessories to signify their status. These accessories were often made of gold and precious stones, and were designed to impress and showcase the wealth and power of the royal family.

Overall, the influence of royalty on children’s fashion 200 years ago was significant, and their attire served as a reflection of the extravagance and opulence of the royal court.

Popular Colors and Prints

In the 1800s, children’s fashion was heavily influenced by the adult fashion trends of the time. The pastel colors that were popular for both girls and boys during this period reflected the light and airy aesthetic of the era. Pink, blue, yellow, and green were some of the most common pastel shades that were favored by parents.

Floral and striped prints were also popular choices for children’s clothing during this time. Floral prints were often used for dresses and blouses, while striped prints were popular for both boys and girls‘ clothing. The floral prints were usually bright and bold, while the striped prints were often more subdued in color.

These color and print choices reflected the sentimental and romantic values of the time, as well as the growing interest in nature and the outdoors. Parents also preferred these colors and prints as they were considered to be more innocent and pure, reflecting the idealized view of childhood during the 1800s.

Despite the popularity of these color and print choices, there were also some variations based on regional and cultural differences. For example, in some parts of Europe, darker colors such as navy and brown were more popular, while in other regions, brighter colors such as red and orange were more commonly used. Additionally, religious and social beliefs also played a role in influencing the color and print choices of children’s clothing during this time.


In the past 200 years, footwear for children has undergone significant changes. During this time, simple leather shoes or boots were highly popular for outdoor use. These shoes were crafted from high-quality leather and were designed to be durable and long-lasting. They were often hand-stitched and featured plain designs, without any elaborate embellishments.

For indoor use, soft leather slippers were also a common sight. These slippers were made from soft, supple leather and were designed to be comfortable and warm. They were often worn by children in the home and were a popular choice for those who could afford them.

Despite the simplicity of these shoes, they were highly functional and provided children with the support and comfort they needed. They were also often passed down from generation to generation, making them a treasured possession for many families.

Overall, footwear for children 200 years ago was functional, practical, and designed to last. It was a reflection of the values and priorities of the time, with an emphasis on quality and durability over fashion and style.

The Future of Children’s Fashion 200 Years Ago

How Technology Will Impact Children’s Clothing

With the advent of technology, children’s clothing has seen a significant transformation in the past 200 years. The introduction of new fabrics and materials, along with increased access to fashion trends through media, has played a vital role in shaping the future of children’s fashion.

Introduction of New Fabrics and Materials

In the past 200 years, there has been a remarkable development in the field of textiles. New fabrics and materials have been introduced, which have revolutionized the way children’s clothing is designed and manufactured. For instance, synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon have replaced natural fibers like cotton and wool, offering greater durability and comfort.

Moreover, technological advancements have led to the creation of fabrics that are more breathable, moisture-wicking, and resistant to wrinkles. These innovations have allowed designers to create children’s clothing that is not only fashionable but also functional and practical.

Increased Access to Fashion Trends through Media

In the past, children’s fashion trends were largely influenced by local and regional styles. However, with the advent of technology, children’s fashion trends have become more global, with access to fashion trends from around the world.

The rise of social media and fashion blogs has made it easier for parents and children to stay up-to-date with the latest fashion trends. They can now access a vast array of fashion resources, including runway shows, fashion magazines, and online retailers. This increased access to fashion trends has encouraged children to express their individuality through their clothing choices, leading to a more diverse and dynamic children’s fashion industry.

Overall, technology has had a profound impact on children’s fashion, from the materials used to make clothing to the trends that influence design. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that children’s fashion will continue to change and adapt to meet the needs and desires of the next generation.

Impact of Social and Environmental Movements

Greater focus on sustainability and ethical production

  • As social and environmental movements gained momentum in the early 19th century, the fashion industry began to face increased scrutiny over its practices.
  • This led to a greater focus on sustainability and ethical production, with many manufacturers and designers working to reduce their environmental impact and ensure that their products were produced in a responsible and ethical manner.
  • This included using sustainable materials, reducing waste, and ensuring fair labor practices throughout the supply chain.

Increased emphasis on gender-neutral clothing options

  • Another major impact of social and environmental movements on children’s fashion was an increased emphasis on gender-neutral clothing options.
  • As more people began to question traditional gender roles and expectations, there was a growing demand for clothing that was not strictly defined by gender.
  • This led to the development of a wider range of clothing options for children, with many designers and manufacturers offering clothing that was suitable for children of any gender.
  • This trend towards gender-neutral clothing options was also influenced by a growing awareness of the importance of self-expression and individuality in fashion, as well as a recognition of the harm caused by gender stereotypes and expectations.

The Role of Children’s Clothing in Identity Formation

Clothing as a form of self-expression

Clothing has always been a means of self-expression, and this holds true for children’s fashion as well. In the past, children’s clothing was often designed to reflect the latest fashion trends, and children were encouraged to dress in a way that reflected their personality and individuality. This allowed children to express themselves through their clothing choices, and to communicate their personal style to others.

Increased influence of social media on children’s fashion choices

In recent years, the influence of social media on fashion has become increasingly prominent, and this is especially true for children’s fashion. Social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have given children access to a vast array of fashion trends and styles, and have allowed them to share their own fashion choices with a wider audience. This has led to a greater emphasis on individuality and self-expression in children’s fashion, as children are now able to express their unique style and personality through their clothing choices.


1. What was the fashion like for children 200 years ago?

Children’s fashion 200 years ago was quite different from what we see today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, children’s clothing was often more formal and adult-like than it is today. Boys typically wore suits with long pants, knee-length socks, and shoes with buckles. Girls, on the other hand, wore dresses with high necks, long sleeves, and petticoats underneath. These dresses were often made of heavy fabrics like cotton or wool, and were decorated with lace, ribbons, and other embellishments.

2. How did children’s clothing differ between the 18th and 19th centuries?

In the 18th century, children’s clothing was more simple and practical than it was in the 19th century. Boys and girls both wore clothing that was similar to the clothing worn by adults of the same social class. In the 19th century, children’s clothing became more decorative and elaborate, with a greater emphasis on fashion and style. Boys’ clothing became more tailored and form-fitting, while girls’ dresses became more elaborate, with higher necks, more layers, and more embellishments.

3. What types of fabrics were used to make children’s clothing 200 years ago?

200 years ago, children’s clothing was often made from heavy, sturdy fabrics like cotton, wool, and linen. These fabrics were chosen for their durability and ability to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Cotton was especially popular for making shirts and undergarments, while wool was often used for coats, hats, and other outerwear. Linen was also commonly used for summer clothing, as it is a lightweight, breathable fabric.

4. How did children’s shoes differ 200 years ago?

Children’s shoes 200 years ago were often simpler and more practical than the shoes we see today. Boys typically wore shoes with buckles, while girls wore shoes with small heels and ankle straps. These shoes were made from leather and were designed to be sturdy and long-lasting. They were also often hand-made by local cobblers, who would make each pair of shoes to fit the individual child’s foot.

5. How did children’s hairstyles differ 200 years ago?

Children’s hairstyles 200 years ago were often more formal and elaborate than they are today. Boys typically wore their hair short and neatly trimmed, while girls often wore their hair in long, flowing braids or up in buns. Some girls also wore fancy hair accessories like ribbons, bows, and hair flowers to add a touch of elegance to their hairstyles.

100 Years of Boys’ Clothes | Glamour

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