Clothing for boys during the period is also very different from the clothes worn in the 21st century. So different in fact, that boys wear dresses up until about the age of 5 when a boy begins the process of being breeched.
About age 5, the dress turns into the knickerbocker suit consisting of baggy knee pants with gathers just below the knee. Another version of the suit features straight leg pants. The knee pants fasten to the shirt by buttons at the waist. A belted tunic with a diagonal front opening (the shortened "dress") is then worn over the shirt and pants. Decorative trim on the suit consists of brass buttons and braiding. This would be the typical outfit until a boy is fully breeched. During this time the look of pants changes in three separate stages. Each stage represents another step toward adulthood. The side openings of the pants change to a front button fly. The buttons at the waist disappear in favor of suspenders. At this point the pants legs lengthen to the ankles. The shirt also changes in appearance during this time. This process usually is complete by age 10.
The shirts of very young boys are made of holland, wool or nansook and are worn with or without a waistcoat. The diagonal openings on the front of the shirts also change to the button down fronts of their father's and are made from cotton. Rarely is a boy seen without a waistcoat or jacket over his shirt.
The length of boys jackets also varies from a short bolero type or Zouave, to the shapeless sack coat. Both of these can be worn with a waistcoat and be adorned with a braid trim. Fasteners also change from a single button or tab closure for a young boy with the number of buttons increasing until the boy reaches the age of ten at which time, the boy's dress resembles that of his adult father.
The popular colors for boy's clothing are black, dark grays and brown. Wool is the fabric of choice for suits, pants and jackets, while cotton is the fabric of choice for shirts.
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