chapter  4
Affording Boys’ Clothes
Pages 22

In 1893, Charles Baker & Co. issued an illustrated price list detailing the clothes for boys and men available from their four London branches or by mail order (carriage paid, with full money-back guarantee).1 They repeated a claim they had been making since the early 1880s: ‘Opened to keep pace with the Civil Service Stores … 25 per cent under usual London prices.’ This suggests a highly priceconscious clientele, yet the styles on offer included middle-class formal wear, Eton suits for boys and morning coats for men. Moreover, each outfit was available in several different qualities, so that a youth’s tweed suit might cost as little as 9s or as much as 25s 9d for the smallest size. This document indicates both the importance of pricing to ready-to-wear retailers, and the difficulty of abstracting trends and policies from the wealth of detail available. Yet knowing what garments cost is essential to understanding their social meanings.