Boys in Petticoats – April 1914

In engravings and pictures of olden times there are to be seen quite biggish boys in petticoats with only the jacket and the cropped heads to distinguish them from their sisters.

I have been told of my grandfather — or great-grandfather, it might be — going to school in petticoats at twelve years of age. But a century or more brings changes in fashion even among the babies. When I heard of a friend putting her boy into trousers on his second birthday, it sounded a bit precocious.

And last summer, when I saw a very tiny toddler in knickers and jersey at the seaside, I could not help asking his mother — a perfect stranger to me — what age he was. “A year and seven months,” was the reply. “He has been breeched for three weeks, and there has never been an accident.”

But nineteen months is comparatively mature, after all. I was looking at a photograph of a young friend with her first baby — a little chap in the creeping position on the floor by her side. I demurred that this could surely not be her for her baby was not old enough for trousers — a short trouser leg and a jersey, in place of frock and lacy pinafore.

But I was informed that his petticoats had been discarded when he first learned to walk at 14 months, and what I can readily believe — that he looked quaintly adorable.

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