Flemish boy of 1625 in a boys hair colour with sewn in tucks to both layers of the skirt to allow for growth. Breeching was the occasion when a small boy was first dressed in breeches or trousers. Breeching was an important rite of passage in the life of a boy, looked forward to with much excitement, and often celebrated with a small party.
It often marked the point at which the father became more involved with the raising of a boy. The main reason for keeping boys in dresses was toilet training, or the lack thereof. The change was probably made once boys had reached the age when they could easily undo the rather complicated fastenings of many early modern breeches and trousers. For working-class children, about whom we know even less than their better-off contemporaries, it may well have marked the start of a working life. In the 19th century, photographs were often taken of the boy in his new trousers, typically with his father. He might also collect small gifts of money by going round the neighbourhood showing off his new clothes. Friends, of the mother as much as the boy, might gather to see his first appearance.