SEPIA photographs of a young Victorian boy have inspired an exhibition on more than a century of children’s clothing.

The two pictures of Clifford Jobbins, taken in 1898, show him wearing a full-length white dress and then his first pair of trousers.

During Victorian times - and for centuries before - boys wore dresses up until the age of about six to eight when they were “breeched”. The change in clothing was a symbol of growing up and a cause for celebration among family and friends.

The photographs showing young Clifford’s transformation captured the imagination of members of Abbey House Museum’s Vintage Youth Club who chose the subject of children’s clothing for an exhibition.

The team of budding curators, aged between 13 and 21, raided the vast wardrobe store of Leeds Museums and Galleries to chart the evolution of children’s clothes from Victorian Britain up to the modern age.

The exhibition at Abbey House Museum, entitled He, She, They?, looks at how clothes have been made and styled for boys and girls to suit the trends and traditions of different eras.

Clifford’s picture encouraged the group to find out more, sparking a journey through the archives which included the flapper styles of the Roaring 20s, colour-branded designs of the 1980s up to modern day gender neutral clothing.

Angie Thompson, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ youth engagement officer, said: “Looking back through the collection has been a real revelation for the group and they’ve been able to see first-hand how clothes and gender roles have evolved not only to suit fashions and trends, but also to mirror the changing roles of adult men and women.

“The way parents have chosen to dress boys and girls through different eras has often reflected their hopes and aspirations for their children, the type of society they wanted them to grow up in and the opportunities they wanted them to have.”

He, She, They? The Changing Face of Children’s Fashion, runs at Abbey House Museum until January 2020. Anyone interested in joining The Vintage Youth Club and wanting to co-curate more exhibitions at Abbey House Museum should email Angie Thompson via Visit: for more details.