In September 1882, the editor of a woman’s magazine advised her readers about the latest fashions for boys who were still young enough to wear dresses:
For poorer families, clothing choice was dictated less by fashion than by physical and economic constraints:
These contrasting passages remind us that gender and social status are both historically constructed, and constructed through clothing. An understanding of historic clothing practices can illuminate the ways in which social changes were experienced and conceptualised by individuals. This is particularly true of changes in family and personal life, which may be hard to access by other means.