July 15, 2024

A hundred years ago, little girls dressed in a way that was quite different from how they dress today. Back then, fashion was influenced by the time period, social class, and even the weather. Girls’ clothing was often more modest and functional than it is today, with dresses reaching down to their ankles and hair tied back in buns. However, even a century ago, there were already trends in children’s fashion, with certain styles and colors being more popular than others. In this article, we will take a look back at how little girls dressed 100 years ago and see how fashion has evolved over time.

Quick Answer:
Little girls’ clothing 100 years ago was characterized by frilly, lacy, and ornate dresses, often in pastel colors. The dresses were typically made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton or muslin, and were often worn with long, loose hair ribbons and lace-trimmed petticoats. Shoes were also an important part of the outfit, with girls often wearing ankle boots or button-up Mary Janes. Overall, the style was meant to be innocent and feminine, reflecting the values and expectations of the time.

Evolution of Girls’ Clothing Through the Decades

1900s-1910s: Influence of the Edwardian Era

During the early 1900s, children’s fashion was heavily influenced by the Edwardian era, which was characterized by its romantic and frilly aesthetic. This influence can be seen in the clothing of little girls during this time period, with long dresses, lace, frilly sleeves, and high necklines being common features.

Long dresses and lace

One of the most notable aspects of girls’ clothing during the 1900s-1910s was the popularity of long dresses. These dresses were often made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton or linen, and were designed to be worn over petticoats and underskirts. Lace was also a common feature of these dresses, with intricate designs and patterns adorning the bodice, sleeves, and hemline.

Frilly sleeves and high necklines

In addition to long dresses, girls’ clothing during this time period also featured frilly sleeves and high necklines. These sleeves were often puffed and ruffled, and were designed to be worn with a separate blouse or chemise. High necklines were also common, with collars and cuffs being used to create a more modest look.

Hair accessories and bonnets

Hair accessories were also a popular feature of girls’ clothing during the 1900s-1910s. Bonnets were particularly popular, and were worn to protect the hair from the sun and to keep it tidy. These bonnets were often made of lace or other lightweight fabrics, and were designed to be worn with long dresses and other formal attire.

Overall, the fashion of little girls during the 1900s-1910s was heavily influenced by the romantic and frilly aesthetic of the Edwardian era. Long dresses, lace, frilly sleeves, and high necklines were all common features of girls’ clothing during this time period, and hair accessories such as bonnets were also popular.

1920s-1930s: The Rise of the Flapper Style

Short hemlines and loose clothing

During the 1920s and 1930s, little girls’ clothing underwent a significant transformation. The flapper style, characterized by short hemlines and loose clothing, became popular among young girls. This new fashion trend was influenced by the growing independence and liberation of women during this period. Girls were encouraged to dress in clothing that reflected their newfound freedom and sense of self-expression.

Flapper dresses and headbands

Flapper dresses, which were characterized by their short, straight lines and minimal ornamentation, were popular among little girls during this period. These dresses often featured dropped waists and were worn with long, beaded necklaces and headbands. The headbands, which were adorned with feathers and bows, added a touch of glamour to the overall look.

Bows and feathers as fashion accessories

Bows and feathers were also popular fashion accessories during the 1920s and 1930s. Girls would often wear hair bows and barrettes to keep their hair neatly styled. Feathers, which were seen as a symbol of glamour and sophistication, were also popular as fashion accessories. They were often used to adorn hats, purses, and even shoes. Overall, the fashion trends of the 1920s and 1930s reflected the growing independence and liberation of women during this period. Little girls were encouraged to dress in clothing that reflected their newfound freedom and sense of self-expression.

1940s-1950s: The Impact of World War II and Post-War America

Clothing rationing and utility wear

During World War II, the United States implemented clothing rationing in order to conserve materials for the war effort. This meant that people had to make do with fewer fabrics and had to be resourceful with their wardrobe choices. The focus shifted from fashion to functionality, and practicality became the norm. Women’s magazines of the time provided instructions on how to make the most out of limited resources by sewing patterns for children’s clothes that used less fabric, such as wrap-around dresses and overalls.

Revival of femininity in the late 1940s

After the end of World War II, the country experienced a shift in focus towards rebuilding and recovery. The economy began to improve, and people started to look towards the future again. In fashion, this was reflected in a revival of femininity. Dresses became more elaborate, with full skirts and elaborate ruffles. The use of bright colors and pastels became popular again, as people began to embrace a more optimistic outlook on life.

Polka dots and pinafores

Polka dots were a popular pattern in the 1940s and 1950s, often appearing on dresses, blouses, and even socks. This trend may have been influenced by the return of femininity, as polka dots were seen as a playful and girlish pattern. Pinafores, or apron-like garments, were also popular during this time. They were often worn over dresses or blouses, and were sometimes worn with a bow at the waist. Pinafores were practical and allowed little girls to play and explore without fear of soiling their clothes.

1960s-1970s: The Birth of Youth Culture and Fashion

Mini skirts and mod fashion

During the 1960s and 1970s, girls’ fashion underwent a significant transformation, as the youth culture began to exert its influence on the fashion industry. The mod fashion movement, which originated in London, was characterized by a minimalist aesthetic, with a focus on clean lines, geometric shapes, and bold colors. This trend was reflected in the clothing choices of young girls, who embraced the mod style with its emphasis on simplicity and sophistication.

Bohemian styles and flower power

Another influential trend of the era was the rise of bohemian fashion, which celebrated a more free-spirited and expressive approach to dress. This style was popularized by the counterculture movement, which sought to challenge the conventions of mainstream society. Girls embraced the bohemian look with its emphasis on flowing fabrics, vibrant colors, and eclectic patterns, often pairing these elements with comfortable, relaxed cuts.

Disco influence and glamour

The disco era of the 1970s also had a significant impact on girls’ fashion, as the glamour and excitement of the dance floor inspired a new generation of fashion trends. Young girls embraced the disco look with its emphasis on glitter, glamour, and excess, often choosing brightly colored and sequined clothing that reflected the energetic spirit of the disco era. This trend towards more expressive and attention-grabbing styles marked a significant departure from the more subdued fashion choices of previous decades.

Influential Designers and Brands

Key takeaway: Throughout the 20th century, the fashion industry for little girls underwent significant changes, reflecting the social, cultural, and economic trends of the time. From the romantic and frilly aesthetic of the Edwardian era to the bohemian styles of the 1960s and 1970s, little girls’ clothing was heavily influenced by societal changes and the rise of new fashion trends. The influence of French haute couture, American designers, and mass-market brands played a crucial role in shaping the way little girls dressed, with designers like Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent leaving a lasting impact on children’s fashion. Popular fashion accessories and trends, such as hair accessories, footwear, and jewelry, also played a significant role in how little girls dressed. Additionally, the influence of movies and television on kids’ fashion cannot be overstated, with iconic film costumes and fashionable TV characters leaving a lasting impression on fashion history. Finally, societal changes, such as the women’s rights movement and technological advancements, also had a significant impact on the way little girls dressed.

French Haute Couture

Coco Chanel and her classic styles

Coco Chanel, the pioneering French fashion designer, played a significant role in shaping the fashion industry during the early 20th century. Her designs for little girls during this period were characterized by simplicity, comfort, and practicality. Chanel’s iconic “little black dress” was first introduced in 1925 and became an instant classic, setting the standard for elegance and sophistication in children’s fashion. The dress featured a boat neck, sleeveless design, and a straight skirt that fell just above the knee, creating a timeless and versatile look that could be dressed up or down for any occasion.

Christian Dior and the New Look

Christian Dior, another influential French designer, revolutionized children’s fashion in the 1940s and 1950s with his groundbreaking “New Look” style. This revolutionary design was characterized by full, voluminous skirts, cinched waists, and elaborate details such as bows, ruffles, and lace. The New Look transformed the way little girls dressed, emphasizing femininity and grace in children’s clothing. Dior’s designs for little girls during this period were often made from luxurious fabrics like silk, satin, and taffeta, and featured intricate embroidery and beading, reflecting the glamour and sophistication of the adult fashion world.

Yves Saint Laurent and the Mondrian dress

Yves Saint Laurent, a French fashion designer known for his innovative and avant-garde designs, also made a significant impact on children’s fashion during the 1960s and 1970s. One of his most famous creations was the Mondrian dress, inspired by the abstract art of Piet Mondrian. The dress featured bold, color-blocked squares of bright, primary colors, creating a bold and striking look that challenged traditional notions of children’s fashion. Saint Laurent’s designs for little girls during this period were often characterized by bold prints, vibrant colors, and unconventional silhouettes, reflecting the more playful and expressive spirit of the times.

Overall, French haute couture played a crucial role in shaping the fashion industry for little girls during the past century, with designers like Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent creating iconic styles that continue to influence children’s fashion today.

American Designers and Mass-Market Brands

The influence of American designers and mass-market brands on children’s fashion cannot be overstated. These brands have played a significant role in shaping the way little girls dress, both in the past and in the present. Here are some of the most notable American designers and mass-market brands that have left their mark on children’s fashion:

OshKosh B’Gosh

OshKosh B’Gosh is one of the oldest and most iconic American brands that specialize in children’s clothing. Founded in 1895, the brand has been a staple in many American households for generations. The brand’s signature overalls, denim dresses, and knit sweaters have been a popular choice for little girls for over a century. OshKosh B’Gosh has always been known for its high-quality materials and durable designs, making it a reliable choice for parents who want their children to look and feel their best.

The Gap

The Gap is another iconic American brand that has had a significant impact on children’s fashion. Founded in 1969, the brand has become a household name worldwide, known for its classic and timeless designs. The Gap’s clothing line for little girls includes dresses, skirts, tops, and pants, all made from high-quality materials. The brand’s signature khaki jacket and white t-shirt combination has been a staple in many little girls’ wardrobes for decades. The Gap’s commitment to quality and style has made it a go-to brand for parents who want their children to look stylish and comfortable.

J.Crew

J.Crew is a popular American brand that has been a favorite among little girls for years. Founded in 1983, the brand has become known for its preppy and classic designs. J.Crew’s clothing line for little girls includes dresses, skirts, tops, and pants, all made from high-quality materials. The brand’s signature crewneck sweaters and cotton dresses have been a staple in many little girls’ wardrobes for years. J.Crew’s commitment to quality and style has made it a go-to brand for parents who want their children to look stylish and comfortable.

These American designers and mass-market brands have played a significant role in shaping the way little girls dress. Their commitment to quality, style, and comfort has made them a staple in many households worldwide. Whether it’s OshKosh B’Gosh’s iconic overalls or J.Crew’s preppy designs, these brands have left a lasting impact on children’s fashion.

Popular Fashion Accessories and Trends

Hair Accessories

In the past, hair accessories played a significant role in how little girls dressed. They were a crucial element in adding the finishing touch to their outfits. The most popular hair accessories for little girls 100 years ago included headbands, barrettes, and ribbons and bows.

Headbands

Headbands were a popular hair accessory for little girls 100 years ago. They were usually made of soft materials such as satin or lace and were worn to keep the hair neatly back from the face. Headbands were often decorated with bows, flowers, or other embellishments, making them a cute and stylish addition to any outfit.

Barrettes

Barrettes were another popular hair accessory for little girls 100 years ago. They were often made of metal or plastic and were used to hold the hair back from the face. Barrettes were also decorated with bows, flowers, or other embellishments, making them a fun and playful way to accessorize the hair.

Ribbons and bows

Ribbons and bows were a staple hair accessory for little girls 100 years ago. They were used to decorate headbands, barrettes, and even the hair itself. Ribbons and bows were often made of lace, satin, or other soft materials and came in a variety of colors and styles. They were a simple yet elegant way to add a touch of femininity to any outfit.

Overall, hair accessories played a significant role in how little girls dressed 100 years ago. They were a fun and playful way to express their personal style and add a finishing touch to their outfits.

Footwear

Mary Janes

Mary Janes were a popular choice for little girls’ footwear 100 years ago. These shoes had a strap that crossed over the instep and was fastened with a bow or button. They were typically made of leather or patent leather and had a low heel. Mary Janes were often worn with dresses or skirts and were considered a practical yet fashionable choice for young girls.

Ankle socks

Ankle socks were another popular footwear choice for little girls 100 years ago. These socks reached just above the ankle and were often worn with dresses or skirts. They were made of cotton or wool and were available in a variety of colors and patterns. Ankle socks were considered a practical choice for young girls as they kept the feet warm and protected while still allowing for a bit of fashion flair.

Ballet flats

Ballet flats were a popular choice for little girls’ footwear 100 years ago. These shoes were made of soft, flexible material and had a flat sole. They were often worn with dresses or skirts and were considered a practical yet fashionable choice for young girls. Ballet flats were also a popular choice for dance classes as they provided a good level of support and flexibility for young dancers.

Jewelry

Beaded necklaces

During the early 1900s, beaded necklaces were a popular fashion accessory for little girls. These necklaces were often made of glass beads in various colors, and were worn with simple dresses or blouses. The beaded necklaces were often long and could be worn with a simple chain or a clasp at the back. They were considered to be elegant and sophisticated, and were often given as gifts for special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas.

Tiny bangles

Tiny bangles were another popular fashion accessory for little girls during the early 1900s. These bangles were made of metal or glass, and were often worn in sets of two or three. They were worn on the wrists and made a tinkling sound when moved, which was considered to be delightful. The bangles were often decorated with intricate designs and were a popular choice for special occasions such as weddings or parties.

Pearl earrings

Pearl earrings were a classic fashion accessory for little girls during the early 1900s. These earrings were often made of real pearls, which were considered to be a symbol of elegance and sophistication. The earrings were often simple and delicate, and were worn with simple dresses or blouses. They were a popular choice for special occasions such as weddings or parties, and were often passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms.

The Influence of Movies and Television on Kids’ Fashion

Iconic Film Costumes

  • Film costumes have had a significant impact on children’s fashion trends over the years.
  • Here are some of the most iconic film costumes that have left a lasting impression on fashion history.

Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz

  • The classic blue and white gingham dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz has become an iconic symbol of childhood fashion.
  • The simple yet stylish dress, complete with a white apron and matching bow, has been replicated in various forms and remains a popular choice for young girls today.
  • The enduring popularity of Dorothy’s dress is a testament to the timeless appeal of classic children’s fashion.

Eponine’s dress from Les Misérables

  • The romantic, flowing dress worn by Eponine in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables has become a beloved fashion staple for young girls.
  • The dress, designed by designer Paco Delgado, features a deep red color and elegant, draped details that create a stunning and sophisticated look.
  • The popularity of Eponine’s dress highlights the continued appeal of elegant and romantic fashion for young girls.

Belle’s gown from Beauty and the Beast

  • The beautiful and elaborate gown worn by Belle in the 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast has become an iconic symbol of children’s fashion.
  • The gown, designed by animator and Disney Legend Glen Keane, features a pink and blue color scheme and intricate, whimsical details that make it a stunning and imaginative piece.
  • The enduring popularity of Belle’s gown is a testament to the continued allure of fairy tale-inspired fashion for young girls.

Fashionable TV Characters

Wednesday Addams’ unique style

Wednesday Addams, the protagonist of the classic TV series “The Addams Family,” has been a fashion icon for many young girls over the years. Her distinctive style, which consisted of a black dress, a white collar, and a bow in her hair, set her apart from other characters on the show.

Laura Petrie’s mod outfits

Laura Petrie, the lead character in the sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” was known for her stylish and modern outfits. Her mod dresses, shift dresses, and tailored suits were popular among young girls in the 1960s. Laura’s fashion sense was playful and youthful, making her a beloved fashion icon for many little girls.

Nellie Olson’s frontier frocks

Nellie Olson, the mischievous and precocious character in the “Little House on the Prairie” book series, was known for her colorful and ruffled frontier frocks. Her outfits reflected the pioneer-era clothing of the late 1800s, with lots of petticoats, lace, and ribbons. Nellie’s style was often imitated by young girls who wanted to emulate her independent and adventurous spirit.

The Impact of Societal Changes on Girls’ Clothing

Women’s Rights Movement

The women’s rights movement played a significant role in shaping the way little girls dressed a hundred years ago. As the movement gained momentum, it led to changes in societal attitudes towards girls’ clothing, which in turn influenced the fashion industry. Here are some of the ways in which the women’s rights movement impacted girls’ clothing:

Pants become acceptable for girls

During the early 20th century, the idea of girls wearing pants was considered scandalous. However, as the women’s rights movement gained traction, the notion of girls wearing pants became more acceptable. By the 1960s, girls were regularly seen wearing pants, and the once-controversial garment became a staple of children’s clothing.

Emphasis on comfort and practicality

As women’s roles in society began to change, so too did the emphasis on comfort and practicality in girls’ clothing. The women’s rights movement encouraged women to pursue careers and engage in activities that were traditionally considered masculine, such as sports and outdoor activities. As a result, girls’ clothing began to reflect these new interests, with a greater emphasis on functionality and comfort.

Tomboy style gains acceptance

The tomboy style, which consisted of loose-fitting clothing and practical footwear, gained acceptance during the women’s rights movement. This style was seen as a rejection of traditional feminine dress, and it reflected the growing desire for girls to participate in activities that were traditionally considered masculine. The tomboy style was also seen as a way for girls to express their independence and assert their individuality.

Overall, the women’s rights movement had a significant impact on the way little girls dressed a hundred years ago. By promoting the idea that girls could wear pants, emphasizing comfort and practicality, and encouraging the tomboy style, the movement helped to break down traditional gender norms and pave the way for greater gender equality.

Technological Advancements

Rise of activewear and sportswear

  • In the early 1900s, girls’ clothing began to shift towards more practical and active wear, with the introduction of new fabrics and designs.
  • This change was largely influenced by the growing interest in sports and physical activity among young women, who sought clothing that was more suitable for participating in these activities.
  • New materials like synthetic fibers and moisture-wicking fabrics allowed for greater flexibility and comfort during exercise, leading to the development of specialized activewear for girls.

Denim becomes a staple

  • Denim, a durable and versatile fabric, gained popularity as a staple in girls’ clothing during the early 1900s.
  • This was due in part to the increasing availability of mass-produced denim, which made it more affordable for families to purchase.
  • Denim overalls, jeans, and denim dresses became popular choices for playtime and everyday wear, offering a practical and stylish option for young girls.

Fast fashion and globalization

  • In the latter half of the 20th century, the rise of fast fashion and globalization had a significant impact on girls’ clothing.
  • Fast fashion brands began to dominate the market, offering trendy and affordable clothing options for children and adults alike.
  • This led to a greater emphasis on fashion trends and the rapid circulation of new styles, with many designs inspired by popular culture and celebrities.
  • As a result, girls’ clothing became more diverse and accessible, with a wider range of options available to parents and children.

FAQs

1. What was the general style of clothing for little girls 100 years ago?

The general style of clothing for little girls 100 years ago was quite different from what we see today. Girls’ clothing was often more modest and covered up, with long sleeves, high necklines, and dresses that reached down to their ankles. The dresses were typically made of lightweight fabrics like cotton or muslin, and were often adorned with lace, ruffles, or other decorative details.

2. How did the clothes that little girls wore differ based on their social class?

The clothes that little girls wore 100 years ago often differed based on their social class. Upper-class girls typically wore more elaborate and expensive clothing, made from high-quality materials like silk or satin. Their dresses were often more ornate, with intricate embroidery or beading, and they may have worn more accessories like hats, gloves, and fancy shoes. In contrast, working-class girls’ clothing was simpler and more practical, made from more utilitarian fabrics like denim or wool.

3. What types of accessories did little girls wear 100 years ago?

Little girls 100 years ago often wore a variety of accessories to complete their outfits. Common accessories included hair bows, ribbons, and barrettes to decorate their hair. They may have also worn simple necklaces or brooches, and sometimes even wore small flowers or other natural items in their hair. Shoes were also an important accessory, and girls often wore lace-up boots or button-up shoes that were comfortable and practical for playing outdoors.

4. How did the clothes that little girls wore change over time during the early 1900s?

During the early 1900s, the clothes that little girls wore underwent several changes over time. As the era progressed, girls’ clothing became more comfortable and practical, with shorter sleeves and hemlines, and more relaxed fits. The use of more vibrant colors and patterns also became more popular, as well as the introduction of new fabrics like denim and corduroy. Additionally, as the suffrage movement gained momentum, girls’ clothing began to reflect a more independent and assertive style, with less emphasis on frills and lace.

5. What impact did the First World War have on the clothing of little girls?

The First World War had a significant impact on the clothing of little girls. With many men serving overseas, women and girls took on more responsibilities on the home front, including working in factories and participating in volunteer organizations. As a result, girls’ clothing became more practical and functional, with simpler designs and more utilitarian fabrics. Additionally, the shortage of materials during the war led to the development of new clothing styles, such as the “Liberty dress,” which was made from fabric imported from France.

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