Curators Choice – Boy’s Dresses

Until the late 1800s, it was usual for young boys to wear gowns or dresses until they were old enough to be breeched. This was when they began to wear trousers, or breeches. Because of the complicated fastenings on breeches, it was easier for a little boy to go to the toilet in a gown. When a boy was old enough to cope with the fastenings, he would be breeched.

The gowns on show in this film date to the 1820s, when boys were breeched at about three years old. But it could vary between two and eight years of age. Breeching was an important rite of passage in a boy’s life that was often celebrated with a party. He might to around the local area with his family, showing off his new clothes and receiving gifts.

In this film, Madeleine Gray, Collections Assistant Decorative Arts, showcases the gowns worn by Rowland Winn, 1st Baron St Oswald.

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