M922.214.171.124-2 | Romper
About 1930, 20th century
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Taylor
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Romper (1)
Keys to History
Guided by medical principles, reformers undertook to modify children's clothing in the late 1800s. They wanted to free children's bodies from the tyranny of certain fashions. Once the importance of playing and freedom of movement to children's development was recognized, conventional clothing began to seem overly constrictive. The booklet Principes d'hygiène [Principles of Hygiene], published by the Quebec government in 1923, urged mothers to do away with "excessively tight clothing that tends to stunt growth." Rompers, jumpsuits and playsuits, which were new and revolutionary at the time, became popular in the first few decades of the 20th century. Practical, functional and comfortable, they allowed children to move around freely to explore their environment.
This boy's cotton romper was done up with ten buttons. Cotton, available in a wide variety of thicknesses and weaves, was the fabric most commonly used to make children's clothing in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the first half of the 20th century, most city children had a limited wardrobe that could be divided into three basic categories: "Sunday" clothes, play clothes and school clothes.
Children's rompers first appeared in the Sears catalogue in 1906.
As the 20th century progressed, the difference between girls' and boys' clothes became more and more pronounced. In the 1920s, pink began to be associated with girls and blue with boys, a perception that would take another thirty years to become firmly established.