Research: Childhood History

Dr Clare Rose is one of the leading experts in the history of childhood in Britain, with special expertise in children’s fashion and gender differentiation in the past. Her Children’s Clothes Since 1750 made groundbreaking use of unpublished retail catalogues and surviving garments to investigate the clothes actually worn by children in the past.

Clare Rose’s PhD, Boyswear and the formation of gender and class identity in urban England, 1840-1900 (University of Brighton, 2006) examined thousands of unpublished documents and images to establish the ways that fashion shaped boys’ appearance in Victorian Britain. Her research investigated the photo archives of Dr Barnardo’s Homes, and unpublished collections of manufacturers’ designs and retailers’ catalogues, to show that boys’ fashion was big business even before 1900. She demonstrated that boys’ sailor suits were not seen as miniature uniforms, but as fashion garments with highly un-nautical trimmings.

Clare Rose is, with Aude LeGuennec, the founder of the research network IN2FROCC (Interdisciplinary and International Network for Research on Children and Clothing), under the umbrella of the ACORSO international research group,   She was a consultant to the exhibition S’habiller pour l’école at the Musée national de l’éducation, Rouen, France. She has spoken about the history of children’s clothes at universities in Europe and the USA – and on television as an expert for the Great British Sewing Bee Series 2 (2014) and Series 7 (2021).

Childhood History Publications

  • ‘L’uniformité sans uniformes : l’habitus de l’école à la fin du XIXe siècle en Angleterre’. In Aude LeGuennec and Nicolas Coutant (eds.), S’habiller pour l’école, Exhibition Catalogue, Musée national de l’éducation (Munaé), Rouen. (Poitiers : Editions Canopé, 2023)
  • Aude Le Guennec, Clare Rose, Laetitia Barbu, Anne-Charlotte Hartmann-Bragard, Maija Nygren and Yasmin Sekhon-Dhilon in, ‘Towards an Informed, Participative and Sustainable Approach of Children’s Fashion and Clothing: IN2FROCC in Action.’ In Sam Frankel (ed.), Establishing Child Centred Practice in a Changing World, Part A, (Bingley: Emerald Publishing, 2022)
  •  ‘Age-related clothing codes for boys in Britain, 1850–1900’, Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion 2(2-3):127 – 42, (2015)
  • Evaluating the manufacturing and retailing practices of H.J. and D. Nicoll through a c1860 boy’s suit, Textile History 45/1 (2014)
  • From Boy to Man in Nigel Goose and Katrina Honeyman (eds), Childhood and Child Labour in Industrial England – Diversity and Agency 1750-1914 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013)
  • Maternal Consumption: A view from the past, Journal of Consumer Culture 13/2 (2013)
  • Continuity and change in children’s clothing, 1885-1920, Textile History 42 (2011)
  • What was uniform about the Fin-de-Siècle sailor suit?  Journal of Design History, 23 (2011)
  • Making, Selling and Wearing Boys’ Clothes in late Victorian England, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010)
  • Raggedness and Respectability in  Barnardo’s Archive, International Journal of Childhood in the Past 1 (2008)
  • The novelty consists in the ornamental design’: design innovation in mass-produced boys’ clothing, 1840-1900’, Textile History vol. 38/1 (2007)
  • Alla ricerca della cenciosita (In search of raggedness) in Tiziano Bonazzi (ed.), Riconoscimento ed Esclusione, (Rome: Carocci Editore, 2003)
  • Children’s Clothes Since 1750, (London and New York: T Batsford/Drama Press, 1989)

2 Responses to Research: Childhood History

  1. Timna Rose says:

    Hello, I would like to find the source of the image above (Boy in Leeds), would you know that?
    Thank you

  2. Clare says:

    Good to hear from you, Timna – this is from an old photograph I purchased in an antiques market. If you would like to know more please email me, clare(at)

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