Boy’s Skeleton Suit from the Museum Textile Collection


Charles Dickens once described the skeleton suit as “An ingenious contrivance for displaying the symmetry of a boy’s figure by fastening him into a very tight jacket… and then buttoning his trousers over it so as to give his legs the appearance of being hooked on just under his arm pits”.  
In his inventory of the Berks History Center’s Museum Collections, Curator Brad Smith recently uncovered a very old child’s outfit.  The outfit is known as a skeleton suit because of its close fit and high waist line. It was a popular boys style from about 1790 to 1830. While the history of our suit is not fully known, it is marked with the owner’s name.  The script is mostly illegible, however it might say “A.W. Yeager”.  Our hope is that with additional research, we can determine the suit’s exact owner and further narrow down its age and history. Considering that is is approximately 200 years old, this piece of our collection is in remarkably good condition.  Textiles dated to the 1700s are rare as they are prone to degradation.

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