Clothing is available in all shapes and sizes for all kinds of people. We broken down clothes into three main categories: men's women's and children's. However some clothes are the same for all three categories. The uniform of jeans and a tee shirt changes little no matter who is wearing it. For the first time in history may be we all dress the same. Once upon a time children's clothes were much different from adults. Little boys were free to wear short pants until they became men. Then they would wear full length slacks and never go back. No so now! You can see grown men in bikini briefs at the beach. People wear anything, everything and nothing.
We were looking at antique photographs one day and I noticed that little boys wore what looked almost like a dress in the 1800's. My sister in law explained that back in the day, before disposable diapers, before snaps and Velcro that all children wore "dresses" until they were potty trained. That makes sense. The legs need to be accessible if you're going to change a cloth diaper held in place with safety pins. I do hope they had safety pins! I couldn't tell from the photo.
After they were potty trained, however, males and females in the 1800's wore very different clothing. Women wore dresses. The dresses reached the floor in most cases. In the early 1800's the style was a plain white gown, column like in cut. The dress was gathered right under the breasts in lieu of the natural waistline, a design made popular by the wife of Napoleon. It is known as "empire waist" even to this day. Clothing at that time was relatively free. It was in the mid 1800's that corsets, boning and odd waists and bustle attachments started to appear. At first it was merely layers of petticoats used to poof out a dress. Later it was a cage like contraption called a crinoline that hung under a woman's dress. The crinoline was an advance in that is was lighter. It was stiff though, so if the wind blew up the skirt the whole thing was in danger of turning inside out.
From the excesses of the 1800's the early 1900's returned to a simpler fashion. Once again there was a war going on, fabric was rationed. From the vivid colors available due to aniline dyes invented at the end of the 1800's the color of fabric in the early 1900's went straight to drab as the Germans prohibited the export of the precious dye. As World War I slid into World War II women helped the war effort by working in factories like the iconic Rosie the Riveter. Being around heavy equipment and machinery, it made more sense for women to cut their hair short and wear pants. Mannish looking styles became popular for the first time. Although nothing was asexual as it is now.
The 1940's and 50's brought back a refreshing "prettiness" to women's clothing. Men's clothing became more fitted as zippers became common. Tailors still made the bulk of men's suits. Look at old clips from this time period and you will notice that men in tuxedos and jackets have a nicer fit than the bright colored blazers and leisure suits of the 1960's and 70's. Women's clothing more often than not had darts in the blouse. Fitted clothes look more attractive, and are more expensive to make. They have to be individually measured and sewn.
The advent of stretch fabrics such as jersey, spandex and other nylons made mass production of clothing easier. If it's meant to be loose one size fits all. The t-shirt became de riguer wear of all young people. Most especially the plain white t-shirt. Bikers and Hollywood actors wore it. Construction workers wore them out in the street. Office workers wore it under their button down. Today women and children alike wear tee shirts plain, colored, emblazoned with logos, jokes and prints.
Jeans, once the uniform of blue collar workers went upscale in the 1980's when "designer jeans" were invented. Costing at times a hundred dollars or more, designer jeans were ironically still not accepted as office wear at the time. Designer jeans were studded and embroidered and issued by actual designers. Usually they were more fitted than Levi's or Wranglers. By the late 1980's grunge and punk music had attracted the attention of the fashion world. Designer jeans gave way to vintage jeans. Tattered, splattered, torn jeans became fashionable. Rinsed in acid or overdyed, jeans were subject to any manner of torture.
The hemline began to change as well. Jeans became available in bootcut, a slight flare to accommodate boots, in pencil thin ends, in straight legs, relaxed fit, even a fit that flattened your tummy via an internal spandex panel. Jeans came in black, in blue and every color in the rainbow.Here were are in 2010, as fashion does another retro look over it's shoulder, bringing back the shoulder pads of the 1980's Reagan years and peter pan style collars.