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Boys in Dresses

The thumbnail pictures here are from the John D. McLaren photo album (and you will find the full size photos with detailed information in that album). What struck me, looking at the pictures, was the question: Why is my dad wearing dresses?

My father was a football player and a fireman and a guy, he wouldn't be dressing like a girl! Here we have another cultural bias, mine, that became obvious with a little research.

In the nineteenth century all babies and young children were dressed in dresses. Dresses were a unisex style - it wasn't a question of boys being dressed like girls. By the late nineteenth century there were differences in the styles of dresses for boys and dresses for girls, but it wasn't until the 1920's that little boys transitioned to rompers and short pants.

Consider this entry in my dad's baby book, under "First Short Clothes":
He wore white dresses always till he was about a year old, when he commenced to wear blouses! He was so large that a two year old pattern was used. We used to think he looked particularly sweet in a little tucked dress with blue baby ribbon at neck and wrists.

He was still a guy. He turned out fine. The bias was mine.

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This site, A McLaren Migration, is maintained by David J. McLaren.
Updated March 28, 2021
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