a Mid 1840's Boy's Brown pin stripe Skeleton suit...
What a treat it is to share this early skeleton~ boy's wear is so scarce, and this one is an absolute gem. Aside from a few scattered rust marks, it is exactly as it was when carefully packed away in the mid 19th c and left forgotten in the family's attic. Its entirely hand stitched in a wonderful toffee brown & natural woven stripe cotton.
Skeleton suits were the bridge from child to man~ worn after dresses, but before a full on suit, they were first seen in the last decade of the 18thc, with the waist so high, the breeches buttoned on nearly up under the armpits. The amount of time it took getting in and out lent to them being called skeleton suits....as in, you'd be an olde man before you could get yourself out of it
They were usually made in 2 separate pieces, a bodice and pants that buttoned together at the waist, but I do have some early ones that are constructed as a single suit and only button partially at the waist, these are all back opening. As you can see this one is front opening, with a 1" standing collar and wonderful long sleeves. Note how full the back seat of the pants are~ the cut is the same as 18th breeches~ very full to allow plenty of room to sit without anything being pinched.
One must take many things into consideration when dating these early suits~ some are very fashionable and easily dated by trims and the going styles of the times...other more utilitarian or middle class garments that are more plain are harder. I date this one to the early 1840s going by the placement of the waist(lower than Empire) and the armcyes (up very high under the armpits in this era)...also the shape of the sleeves and the standing collar. None of the other clothes, nearly 120 different garments, packed away with it in its trunk, date later than the late 1830s....it could be late 1820, but the waist should be higher for that, most definitely not anyplace in the 1830's, as the sleeves have absolutely no fullness to them at all....so I am sticking with my early 1840s date....
And I l-o-v-e the little wee hole incorporated into the front crotch seam. Can you just imagine a little boy hopping up and down, trying to get all those buttons undone to go potty???? Not even! Thank goodness for the wee holes!
The Lady's Repository Museum is a privately owned museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and study of unique early American fashions of both women and children, the later being a specialty.
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