Thursday, July 14, 2016

Boys Wearing Dresses

Yesterday's post, Sara's First Time, refreshed my memory about young boys wearing dresses in previous eras.

My mother put me in a very girly dress for my baptism, but after the festivities, she put my dress away in her cedar chest and that was the end of my publicly-approved days as a boy in a dress.

Two or three generations earlier, I would be en femme full-time until I was breeched. I wonder what effect that would have had on my penchant for femininity. I'm sure it would have intensified my feminine ways and make the transition to boy mode unbearable.

Anyway, when I first discovered that once upon a time boys wore dresses, I researched the matter to see how widespread it was (it was) and why boys wore dresses in the first place.

According to a piece by Judy Mercer Tescher of the Pendleton Historical Museum in Indiana, "It appears the original decision to place boy infants in a dress was a practical choice to facilitate wearing or not wearing a diaper. Extending the number of years that boys wore dresses is a larger story of societal change, philosophy, industrial and marketing forces, emotional needs and an array of other factors."

If you are curious like I was, I urge you to read Ms. Tescher's revealing article, "In History: Why little boys wore dresses."

Source: ShopBop
Wearing Temperley London dress, alice + olivia clutch and Aquazzura sandals.

German boys and girl participating in Geschlechtertausch, 2016.


  1. Stana, talking about the baptismal gown reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter-in-law recently when we were visiting with them. She and I were discussing my letter that I had sent out to family regarding my transitioning. I told her I remembered what she had said when she was getting our grandson (now 13) ready for baptism. She said, "I promise this is the last time I will put you in a dress. From now on it will be your choice." I was standing about five feet away and biting my lip trying to keep from laughing. My wife heard it also and she was grinning looking at me.

  2. I suspect 'boys in dresses' is wishful thinking. Infants were just clothed in non-gender specific garments, that superficially resembled those worn by adult females.

    Much as pink was never a girls colour - it was a sort of watered down red, which symbolised maleness.

    The past is a foreign country, they did things differently there.


  3. I was also baptized in a beautiful white dress. The same dress was worn by my father when he was baptized, as I recall.


  4. Dresses. It's not just for baptism.

  5. Another issue is when a boy's hair was cut. In the Jewish tradition a boy's hair is cut when he is three years old and begins to learn the aleph-bet. But I've known many a mother who has delayed cutting her son's beautiful hair until 4 or 5.