We all know how the #menswear movement has taken the internet (and the world) by storm. More men than ever in recent years are upholding and promoting a classic style. But what about the next generation of little men–our young sons, grandsons, and nephews? How do we inspire them to have an interest in dressing well? What clothing dress up clothes for boys 2018 should they wear and how do we outfit them?
A Brief History of Clothing for Boys
In Europe from the beginning of the Early Modern period (the 1500s) even up to the early twentieth century, young boys wore the equivalent of a dress up until the age of seven or so, when they would be initiated into wearing pants. This was referred to as a breeching, which was marked by a ceremony as an important moment in a boy’s development. Wearing breeches often coincided with the “age of reason,” when children were thought to be able to understand the consequences of their actions though it could be done as early as age four. Putting boys in dress-like clothes before this, which often makes it difficult to distinguish male and female in paintings, was a practical consideration that made toilet training easier and facilitated clothing alterations as the child grew. From an ideological perspective, unisex clothes showed that children were innocent and pre-sexual.
Until last century, boys wore dress-like garments in their early years. Pink was also a color associated for a long time with male children.
In English-speaking countries, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, boys usually wore short in childhood and would only graduate to trousers when they hit puberty. Even today the association remains; adult men wearing outside a setting are often labeled as juvenile by those who uphold the traditional rules of dress. Long pants marked a true transition to manhood. When boys were breeched, they were also expected to conform to the norms of masculine dress of the time period when they were in public–for example, they had to keep their jackets on–and they had little choice in what they could wear. However, being children, they generally had more freedom than men in how closely they were required to follow the rules of dress. Nowadays, the freedom boys have to wear what they want has definitely increased, and, since the rise of casual wear, many adults would consider putting a boy in the equivalent of a on a regular basis a form of cruelty and confinement.HAVE YOU WATCHED THIS VIDEO YET?
Three generations of British princes in traditional shorts
Getting Started: Expand their Wardrobe
Given that boys were not held to the same standards as men even during a time of strict, we should also be flexible in dressing them today. Though we may be obsessed with traditional style and may refuse to go without a sport even in the dog days of, we can’t insist that our sons and grandsons do the same. Essentially, you want to sow the seeds of good taste where clothing is concerned and try to get your kids to dress well at least some of the time. Take it slow and start with small changes if you need to. In traditional households, mothers are the ones who choose and buy clothing for the children, so this is your chance to provide input as a. You might start by building a that includes shirts with buttons and proper collars,,, and leather, for example, instead of (or in addition to) the usual, sneakers, baseball caps and hoodies with dinosaurs on them. is a safe target as well, and tracking the styles of the photogenic Prince George of Cambridge wears is one way to get ideas.
Expand a boys’ wardrobe beyond the typical t-shirts and jeans.
9 Ways to Get Boys to Like Dressing Up
Even if you diversify a boy’s wardrobe, it’s useless without building a foundation of knowledge and interest. For many boys, their first exposure to tailored clothes–a and or a –is as a school uniform. Otherwise, it’s at a special occasion like a or f or at a weekly religious service. In one case, they’re forced to dress up and wear essentially the same thing each time, and in the other, they get the sense that only happens occasionally. So, the first hurdle is convincing boys to enjoy being more dressed up outside of these situations. This is not unlike convincing grown men that tailoring isn’t only for the office, but it’s better to start early! Here are nine techniques and tips to create a lifelong interest in being a gentleman.
Your style will have an effect on the children around you
1. Be a Style Role Model Yourself
First, simply by enjoying and wearing classic menswear yourself, you can serve as a role model for the young men in your life, at least until they become rebellious teenagers. Boys want to be like their dads or adult men they know. If dad is well dressed, a boy will be more inclined to emulate than if dad also hates to wear a suit to work. I remember vividly a math teacher I had in junior high or intermediate school who wore an array of three-piece suits when he taught a class. He was of descent if that had anything to do with it. I also recall how meticulously he styled his and. I may not remember how to do trigonometry anymore, but I remember him clothes decades later as a style role model.
Frank Galluci acting as a style role model at Pitti Uomo.
2. Get them Clothes that Fit Well
When kids talk about their school uniforms they usually express how they dislike them, but the reasons are that they’re uncomfortable and ill-fitting. Getting clothes that fit well, whether a uniform or outside of school, is paramount to remove the dislike of dressing up. The advice is the same for men buying a suit–if it fits well, it creates a sense of enjoyment and confidence. If boys are made to wear a jacket that is too big or that puddle around their shoes from being too long, they’ll hate being dressed up. The fit doesn’t have to be as perfect as it does for the connoisseur of men’s style, just good, and having some done is a modest financial investment in shaping a boy’s positive attitude to structured clothing.
School uniforms that are too large.
3. Dress Boys to Suit Their Age
Though they may have only been in the world for a few years, the maxim of always applies to boys too. You don’t want to put a boy in chalk stripes or somber colors, for example. Instead. go with brighter hues of blue and choose accessories with fun patterns like geometrically printed ; these still have a sense of childhood about them. Kids will intuitively know when what they’re wearing is or isn’t appropriate to their youth.
Emmett wearing a bright blue jacket and tie with a geometric print that is appropriate to his age.
4. Dress Them Like You
Dads who are outgoing can also opt to do a “mini-me” sort of thing, dressing their sons in a similar or matching outfit to theirs. If you wear a tobacco linen suit, a tie, and a, your son could wear a and pants in a similar color or. This gets a lot of attention and will definitely be seen as cute, so it works well at special events (including!) but not every day. Many kids like attention as much as your typical Pitti Peacock, so they may be game to getting a taste of tailoring. Boys are proud and will smile widely if they are complimented their clothes. If your pockets are lined with gold, you can certainly go full matching for both of you, but you can easily coordinate on a as well.
Big and mini versions of @burezaonline attending Pitti Uomo.
5. Get Them Interesting Books and Resources on Classic Men’s Style
Beyond just being you, introduce the boys in your family to some. Many of us can remember looking through printed works when we were growing up, like the or the World Book encyclopedia, that combined information with pictures. Many or do this. Let your young man look at a copy of Bruce Boyer or peruse The Italian Gentleman. If not books, direct a boy you know to the abundant videos and articles on The Gentleman’s Gazette. If anything, by osmosis they’ll absorb what good style looks like, but it is equally likely you can instill some memories and develop interest.
6. Take Small Steps and Compromise
You can educate a young man about classic style and basics like. Give them sartorial fundamentals, including color combinations, but always let them take things at their own pace. Maybe they’ll show you one morning that they can pick out clothes to suit the occasion. Maybe they’ll want to wear a tie to the movies. Count these as little victories based on the foundation you’ve laid.
Similarly, you likely will want to compromise where kids are concerned even if you wouldn’t for yourself. Even if you would never wear wrinkle-free shirts because of their sheen, you might still buy them for a boy since they look better on an active child than a shirt that needs to be and worn with care. You know not to buy, but for the sake of budget, you don’t need to lose sleep buying a well-fitting polyester suit for a child who will outgrow it within a year.
7. Participate in Gentlemanly Activities Together
Establish the interest early not only with books but with hands-on activities. These also create bonding opportunities, activities you can do together, which are ever more important in an era where young people sit alone in front of screens during their free time. Knowledge transmission is also important. Throughout history, men have taught the next generation of boys how to be gentlemen, including the art of dressing and grooming. David Coggins’ book Men and Style contains several sections of interviews and testimonials from well-dressed men of today talking about their early years and the memories they had of the way their fathers and grandfathers dressed. Nowadays we read comments online from so many young adults in their twenties who don’t know the basics because they were never taught. Sites and online resources like The Gentleman’s Gazette have acted in loco patris to help transmit this knowledge, but if you can teach the next generation directly, firsthand, so much the better. When I was growing up, my grandfather had an awesome shoeshine kit with Kiwi wax polishes, horsehair brushes, buffing clothes and more. I would watch how he polished his shoes and eventually did it for him. To this day, I enjoy the ritual of shoe care, and I can do it well.
Starting young is the key. The accouterments of menswear can be fascinating to a boy who wants to learn, who is eager to be like a grown-up man. Teaching the is usually spoken about as the defining father-son moment, but skills such as tying a necktie with tying , or are all excellent opportunities.
8. Let Them Choose
As mentioned at the start of the article, kids today have unprecedented choice compared to their forebears. Sometimes they will choose wrongly, like wanting to wear sneakers and a suit, a skinny tie, or a Merovingian knot that makes you want to cringe. Part of their self-development and individualization involves the process of personal discovery. You can make suggestions and direct them, but let them experiment. Nothing kills enthusiasm and ruins learning more than disapproval. As adults, we’re still learning every day about how to improve our style, and our mistakes find their way onto eBay; kids should have even more margin for error. Even if you need to settle for the long game, and it takes them until they’re 30, they’ll eventually realize the importance of the style lessons you taught them.
Let kids experiment with personal style without harsh judgment even if they want to wear sneakers with a suit.
9. Teach the True Meaning of Being a Gentleman Today
As part of inspiring youth, I would urge all men to act as teachers and role models for the boys in their lives, not just in terms of style but in all aspects of what makes a gentleman. This means things like and,, and respect for others, particularly the opposite sex, which the #MeToo movement has shown to be sadly lacking in many men. These lessons can bear fruit immediately when other boys are running amok and screaming at a wedding or farting in a restaurant while your young man is well behaved. They also obviously have a long-term impact on their adult lives.
6 Obstacles to Dressing Boys Well
We’ve already mentioned the negative association boys may have when wearing tailored clothing, especially as a school uniform. Beyond this, there are a number of other challenges that you may face as you try to get a young man to dress well.
1. Outgrowing Clothes (and Your Budget)
First, the fact that kids grow, and often rapidly, makes dressing them well potentially expensive, unless you’re Kanye West, who notoriously puts his kids in thousands of dollars worth of Balenciaga. The solution, as with anyone who wants to pursue style on a budget, is thrifting. For a tip, you may want to check out thrift stores in upscale neighborhoods or those that specialize in finer wares. As mentioned earlier, you can also settle on cheaper department store brands provided they fit well and are examples of good taste; they will damage or outgrow stuff anyway.
2. Kids Get Messy Quickly
Boys get dirty and aren’t particularly careful about maintaining their clothes in an orderly way. As adults, we may carefully avoid sitting on a dirty bench when wearing light grey wool trousers and tuck in our shirts if they become untucked, but we can’t always expect a boy to show the same self-awareness. Teach him how to take care of his clothes, but get washable or stain resistant garments and favor dark over light colors nonetheless. Again, children shouldn’t be confined by what they wear, so it’s not worth getting fastidious about keeping them clean. Besides, when boys are indifferent to maintaining perfection, you can chalk this up to a kind of natural. If they forget to button the collar on an or purposely open up their sleeve buttons, they are unselfconsciously achieving something a lot of the #menswear crowd are aiming for!
3. Society Trends Are Against You
Living in a casual society certainly doesn’t help with the resistance boys may feel about dressing well. Nearly everyone around them is dressed with little attention to polished presentation. Moreover, many adults and the popular media enforce the idea that wearing ties and suits is uncomfortable, or merely a way corporations create conformity and turn men into office drones. The lapse of etiquette in contemporary society also means you’re paddling upstream when trying to teach gentlemanly behavior to a young man. These are major challenges you have to overcome. However, by simply modeling your own comportment and showing that there is another side of being well dressed, you can counter the current state of affairs.
4. Kids Are Trendy
Another challenge to properly outfitting boys is that kids tend to be trend chasers; they are conditioned at an early age by advertising to prefer the latest fashion over clothes with a timeless appeal, an attitude that is only fed by their peers and what celebrity kids are wearing on Instagram. The solution, once more, is to furnish the fundamentals on style that transcends fads and take what you can get.
5. Bullies Will Make Fun of Them
When I went to (public) high school in Brooklyn, there was a student from Jamaica who transferred in mid-year. He wore a navy blazer and tie to school each day by choice and always carried a tightly wrapped full-length umbrella; he looked like he stepped out of Kingsman. For this, he was the object of mockery and abuse by other boys, though he was popular with the girls, and I remember him because of his style. The fact is, if a young man dresses in any way that stands out or is different from the norm, he can invite negative attention and bullying; this is true whether he dresses up, down, Emo or Goth, not just in a way that evokes classic men’s style.
Adult men who dress well in workplaces where everyone else is casual are still ridiculed by co-workers. One solution is to limit being well dressed to “smart casual”: a nice buttoned shirt and trousers, for example. This can be a way of teaching him about dressing to fit the environment. The other option, depending on the personality of the child and how harsh the school environment is, would be for him to dress up anyway as a way to assert his individuality and be a trendsetter. Some of today’s best-dressed men, including Bruce Boyer, Sid Mashburn, and Jeremy Hackett, started by marching to the beat of their own drum when they were children or teenagers, as noted in David Coggins’ Men and Style. Maybe the next trend will be Kingsman style, started by your teenager.
6. Teens Will Rebel
Although you may have a younger boy who is receptive to your instruction on things of a gentlemanly nature, it’s still quite likely he will rebel against your style advice during the teen years. A trick here is to play the sprezzatura or Ivy style cards. Many of the fashion brands teens used to like–Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch–were influenced by, and style, and even though they are less popular with teens nowadays, the style continues to hold some fascination. The originally rebellious nature of these styles, and the fact that they were started by young people just a few years older than them are appealing. The sprezzatura look is also associated with a cool nonchalance that teenage boys try to cultivate anyway, so they will buy into it.
Preppy style as worn by Dartmouth freshmen in 1964
Places to Find Classic Clothes for Boys
Beyond thrift, other secondhand marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist, and most department stores, there are a number of specialty menswear stores from which you can acquire more expensive items for boys. This might be an occasional indulgence or something for a special event. In the US, have one of the broadest selections of items for kids. In the UK, sells a wide variety of clothing for boys ages two to eighteen. A few years ago, Drake’s of London sold boys’ ties; they no longer do, but, you never know, they may again.
An example of Hackett’s boyswear.
If we want to make the #menswear movement count, to bring back classic style or, at the very least, keep it alive and vibrant, we have to teach boys to be interested in it, to embrace the ethos. We cannot underestimate the value we have as male role models, not only of style but of gentlemanly behavior. What are your men’s style memories growing up, or how do you teach the boys in your life about menswear? Have you encountered examples of #boyswear? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
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