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All Dressed Up: Fashions for Children and their Families

Start Date 21 December 2012
End Date 18 December 2013
Venue Philadelphia Museum of Art
Location Philadelphia, USA
Curator Kristina Haugland

All Dressed Up: Fashions for Children and Their Families focuses on clothing from the late eighteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, comparing and contrasting adults’ apparel with children’s smaller styles. Garments and accessories from the Museum’s collection explore how evolving concepts of childhood have shaped what was considered appropriate in the past, and the relationship of young styles to those of adults; why girls and small boys both wore skirts; the reason for extreme fashions like hoopskirts; who wore fancy clothes; and how children were expected to behave where these clothes. 

The exhibition features nearly identical late eighteenth-century three-piece suits for a small boy and a grown man and 1830s puff-sleeved printed cotton dresses for a girl and woman. Among numerous other examples from the nineteenth century are tiny dresses for both genders, big and little hoopskirts, and fashionably styled, richly ornamented garments for all ages. The twentieth-century, when dressy clothes were reserved for special occasions, is represented by a 1952 girl’s formal dress designed by Christian Dior. Along with large and small corsets, bonnets, top hats, gloves, and shoes, unusual items on view are a tiny girl’s 1860s adult-styled dress and a garment patented in 1847 that functioned as a baby jumper or “infant gymnasium.” 

In addition to child-friendly labeling, young visitors are encouraged to create and sketch their own fashion designs at a large drawing table, drawing inspiration from images on the monitor, a swatch book of fabric types, and picture books. 

This exhibition is part of Art Splash, a suite of five family-friendly exhibitions, interactive art and play zones, and daily family programs. 


Curator: Kristina Haugland, The Le Vine Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles and Supervising Curator for the Study Room

Location: Costume and Textiles Study Gallery, second floor, Perelman Building