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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Fashion for Children


Fashion has to an extent set its seal upon simplicity for children’s wear. The high-priced dresses and cloaks are apt to be of extremely simple design, their cost depending on the exclusiveness of their style, the richness of material, and the beauty of finish. The first qualification ought not to demand a premium. One or two designs should be sufficient for the use of the whole army of children. Richness of material is again a distinct offense. The lithe and supple grace of childhood does not need to deck itself with valuable stuffs; its activity needs serviceable materials, and, after that, form and color are cheap. Fineness of finish and quality in ornamentation are also unnecessary. Neatness should not be discarded, but featherstitching, hemstitching, and buttonholing, pretty to look at as they are, take up hours of time and are not at all proof against the active wear-and-tear that are the test given to every garment by a childish wearer.

For the mother who puts silken and lace finery, with cobweb stockings and dainty shoes, on her little ones for their dress-up wear in the summer outing one can only sigh with deep commiseration. It is a great truth that all error comes from ignorance; it is even a greater one that some sorts of ignorance are a crime, and such dressing of children is one of them.

Excerpted from the New York Times, July 14, 1895, page 21

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