Children’s clothing is a form of attire worn by children. Children’s clothing varies significantly from culture to culture, with various styles and fashions often being linked with a particular social or ethnic group.
Children usually wear some form of clothing from infancy onwards, not just for the sake of modesty and decency but also to keep them warm, protect them from harm, and fulfill other practical purposes. Clothing for infants may have soft fabrics such as gowns, bonnets or bibs made out of cotton or silk floss. Later on in childhood, they wear T-shirts and jeans made out of cotton or synthetic materials respectively.
Children’s clothing is designed to be comfortable and easy to wear, while still fulfilling the basic needs of warmth, safety, modesty, and attachment. Clothing for children also must conform to a variety of standards in order to be sold commercially. For example, clothing made of certain materials such as cotton has certain standards for washing and durability. There are also standards around garment sizes and consistency in fit.
Children’s clothing varies from moderately protective to rather flamboyant, depending on the social setting. In most parts of the world, children wear normal clothing for their age and pattern. In some places children wear “outfits” that are considerably more elaborate than what is considered normal for children of their age.
A boy can be seen wearing bright dresses, both in summer and winter; he may also wear trousers inside his trousers. A girl can be seen wearing a variety of colorful skirts with tights underneath, such as snow boots and rain boots to match.
Many children from rich families like to wear expensive branded clothes and accessories such as big sunglasses and watches. But in some cultures like China, children wearing expensive branded clothing or shoes is often looked down upon by adults.
Children’s clothing among people of the ancient Near East, Egypt and China was simple. The main garment consisted of a tube-like shift worn underneath other clothes. The length differed greatly; the Chinese called child’s wear “long robes”.
A collection of children’s clothing from around 1850 is on display at the museum at Herstmonceux Castle, England. These are mostly typical of the fashions for boys and girls at that time, with a few particularly fine examples in silk and lace.
During the late 19th century and early 20th century, even young children below the age of 8 or 10 were considered as small adults. The cuts of their clothing were very similar to those of adults and they wore long trousers.
In Western cultures today, there is a wide range of clothing for children, from very informal attire (such as shorts or sweatpants) to clothing for very formal occasions (such as white tie). Children’s clothing is usually sold in different specialty shops like baby clothing. Children’s clothing may be sold in adult stores for the sake of simplicity. For example, small varieties of socks are sometimes found in the section for men’s socks in stores that sell mostly clothes for adults.
Clothing designed specifically for children continues to change from generation to generation, and is influenced by many factors including fashion trends and popular media such as film and television.