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|Leter 32 : Children's Clothes.
Written by JulieW
(9/17/2007 9:25 a.m.)
Eliza left me a message for you, which I have great pleasure in delivering: she will write to you and send you your money next Sunday. Mary has likewise a message: she will be much obliged to you if you can bring her the pattern of the jacket and trousers, or whatever it is that Elizabeth's boys wear when they are first put into breeches; so if you could bring her an old suit itself, she would be very glad, but that I suppose is hardly done.
In JA's era, for practical purposes, boys, before they were breeched, that is potty-trained, and put into wearing trousers, wore dresses, just like little girls.
Here are some rather lovely images of boys and girls wearing dresses :note that they all wear sashes, and as far as I can ascertain the modern convention of blue for a boy, pink for a girl had not been fixed, so the colour of the sash is not a reliable indicator of the sex of the child . Boys were as apt as girls to wear red or pink and vice versa re the colour blue.
This image shows Sir Laurence Dundas and his granson portrayed by Johann Zoffany : note the red sash worn by the little boy.
This picture shows Sir Robert and Lady Buxton with their daughter, Anne.
And this shows Sir Willoughby de Brooke ,again portrayed by Zoffany with his wife, sons and daughter.
So what type of clothes would a newly breeched boy wear?
This illustration from English Children's Costume Since 1775 by Iris Brooke and James Laver shows the type of high waisted trousers a boy might wear and this is probably the type of trousers JA was enquiring about on her sister-in-law, Mary's ,behalf.
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