Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skeleton Suits

Remember those silly articles of children's clothing that weren't very cute but since they were synonymous with childhood you were put in them constantly and ooed and ahhed over?  I spent my first years in many rompers (just like last summer!) and onesies would look ridiculous on anything other than an infant.  The long eighteenth century equivalent were skeleton suits, which well-to-do little boys were forced into.  These jumpsuits look similar to clown suits and I am sure more than one little boy gave his nurse a hard time about wearing them.  However, they present a sentimental portrait into the lifestyle of the time.  Take a look at the wide range of skeleton suits worn all over Europe.

French School, Count Strogonov and Family, ca. 1778
Johann Tischbein, Family Scene, 1778
Anne Rosalie Filleul, The Children of the Comte d'Artois, 1781
Thomas Gainsborough, The Baillie Family, 1784
Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, Marie Antoinette and her Children, 1785
Francisco Goya, Portrait of Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, 1787
Jean-Laurent Mosnier, Anna Muravyova-Apostol and her Children, 1799
Gerard von Kugelgen, The Family of Paul I of Russia, 1800
William Berczy, The Woolsey Family, 1809
Francisco Goya, Porträt des Pepito Costa y Bonelis, 1813
Giuseppe Cammarano, The Family of Francis I of the Two Sicilies, 1820


  1. This was a great post. Their suits really do remind me of clowns! The poor boys, imagine how they would have hated going out in those things! :D

  2. I don't imagine they hated it as much as we'd assume. It was normal for them, it was something all boys would wear, so they'd accept it. Even if it does look funny to us, it was the expected way to dress a boy for that time.

  3. I was thinking about it in terms of fussy children not wanting to put on stuffy clothing. I know I threw a temper tantrum about "foot pjs" as a young lass. Yesterday I witnessed a toddler falling to pieces over a shirt so I wrote this with that fresh in my mind- nothing to do with contemporary aesthetics :)

  4. Aw! The skeleton suits are horrible and adorable all at once! I guess it was an improvement over being forced into a dress though. I'll bet most little guys were happy when that phase of life was over. And I remember the footie pj's being really un-fun to get into but being ridiculously comfortable once you got them on.

  5. Those poor little boys! I would hate to wear those things! lol

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  7. So cute! And i adore family portraits. The only one i found really awkward was of with the two
    Teenage boys in the matching green "jumpers" they seem a bit to old for those clothes. When was they typical age they stoped wearing them?

  8. @Cayetana, Glad to have you!

    @MJ, I thought the same thing. Mom needs to cut the cord and let her sons grow up ;)