A great photo of a little boy, age 3 or 4, in what was known as a “Scotch” suit: traditional Scottish bonnet with tartan jacket and kilt. Probably 1880s.
The photographer was Gamble of Champaign, Illinois. Gamble did business in Champaign and Urbana in the 1880s. Champaign County Early Photographers lists Gamble only in its section for the 1880s.
Boys still wore frocks with pleated skirts, or tunics and blouses over pleated skirts, until the age of three or four. Winterhalter’s portrait of the Prince of Wales in a Scottish kilt in 1849 gave rise to a considerable vogue for pleated skirts; ‘The costume worn by the Prince of Wales when at Balmoral has set the fashion of adapting the complete Highland costume’, stated the Lady’s Newspaper in 1852. ‘Scotch’ suits were worn from 1850 to the 1870s, but less frequently after that. In the 1860s a boy’s suit might reflect the true Scottish costume: ‘a waistcoat and jacket of velvet with a kilt of tartan poplin, plus scarf, brooch, sporran and Glengarry cap, if the jacket is of cloth, then woollen plaid is used for the kilt.’ (Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, 1867). But some very quaint travesties of Scottish dress were considered ideal for boys, and there was a profusion of ‘Young Highlanders’ wherever European fashion was followed, especially in America.
You can read more about this collection of photos and its provenance here. You will also find links to all the posts in this series in that post.
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