Collars on Boys' Shirts: Differentiated Collars


Figure 1.--This Dagurreotype portrait shows how boys commonly dresed at mid-century. Suits and jackets were much more common by the 1860s and covered up the shirt. The ealy portraits show the shirts. Many had white cillars which were usually sewn. The collars woukd be removed for washing.

We notice several basic type of what we call differetiated collars. There may be different terms for these collars. Hopefully our reader will know more about this topic. We notice many boys with collars done in a differet material than the rest of the shirt. Commonly these are different styles of white collars, including ruffle, as well as pointed and rounded collars. Modern blouses shirts are of course done with the collar as an integral part of the garment. Some modern colored shirts are done with white collares and some times cuffs, but this was is a stylistic measure. The shirts we see with white collars in the 19th century were done like this primarily as a laundry measure. Laundry without machines and modern detergents was an onerous, labor intensive activity. And as the collar was the part of the shirt that got dirty fastest, it w easiet tob have a white collar added to the shirt rather than made as part of the shirt. White material could be laundered easier than colored material because bleach could not be added. There are different types of these diffeentiated collars, sewn-on, pinned-on, and detachable. Ruffs were a specialized form.

Laundry

Today we give little attention to washing clothes. Some modern colored shirts are done with white collares and some times cuffs, but this was is a stylistic measure. The shirts we see with white collars in the 19th century were done like this primarily as a laundry measure. Laundry without machines and modern detergents was an onerous, labor intensive activity. And as the collar was the part of the shirt that got dirty fastest, it w easiet tob have a white collar added to the shirt rather than made as part of the shirt. White material could be laundered easier thn colored material because bleach could not be added. There are different types of these duiffeentiated cillars, sewn-on, pinned-on, and detachable. Ruffs were a specialized form. Even the kids can easily do it or for that matter dad during half-time breaks. It is also so simple with modern blended easy to care for fabrics, washing machines, and an array of detrgents, bleaches, fabric softners and much more. Often teenagers, including boys are now involved with washing clothes. This was not always the case. The family laundry used to be an arduous, back breaking effort perforned only by mothers and daughters. It is thus understandable that children once wore their clothes longer than is the case today and why so much care was taken to protect clothes.

Specific Differentiated Collars

We notice several basic type of what we call differetiated collars. There may be different terms for these collars. Hopefully our reader will know more about this topic. We notice many boys with collars done in a differet material than the rest of the shirt. Commonly these are different styles of white collars, including ruffle, as well as pointed and rounded collars. Modern blouses shirts are of course done with the collar as an integral part of the garment. Some modern colored shirts are done with white collares and some times cuffs, but this was is a stylistic measure. The shirts we see with white collars in the 19th century were done like this primarily as a laundry measure. And as the collar was the part of the shirt that got dirty fastest, it was easiet to have an easily laundered white collar added to the shirt rather than made as part of the shirt. The collars were usually white because white material could be laundered easier than colored material because bleach could not be added. There are different types of these diffeentiated c0llars, sewn-on, pinned-on, and detachable. Ruffs were a specialized form.

Sewn-on collars

Many of the collars we see in the mid-19th century were white collars sewn on to shirt waiuss done without collars. We bekieve that mothers commonly purchased shirt waists done without collars and then sewed con the white collars. We are nit positive about this, but many do not look like detachable collars. A shirt is a complicated garment to make. Thus we believce that many if not not most were purchased, epecially in the second half of the 19th century when ready-made clothes became increasingly available. Sewing the collars on and off seems to be a quite a bit of work. We suspoectvthat they were only loosely sewed on so they could be easiky removed. I don't think the white collars could be washed with the colored shirts as they would not stay white very long. This may seem as a biothgersome roiutine, but proper detachable collars were probably more expensive and not very suitable for children exceopt whgen dressing up. This was especially the caee for working-class families. And remember that America was still alargely agriculktural famikly with most people living in farms.

Pin-on Collars

One topic we are not yet sure about is pin-on collars. We are not-entirely sure about the terminology here. We know that lace collars were often not part of a blouse or shirt waist ad pinned on to the boys jacket or woirn over it, An example is an unidentified Chicago boy. We are less sure about other collars such as large whitet collars. This is a topic we need to pursue in more detail. We think that other collars may have been worn on top of jackets in the late 19th and early 20th century. We note boys weating collars that do not seem to be part of blouses. An example here is an American boy, Charles Banthrop. We are, however, not really sure about this yet. We note fancy bib-like collars for babies in a Swiss 1919 mail-order catalog. The German-language catalog called Lštzil or Bavette.

Detachable Collars

The modern reader may not realize that in the 19th and early 20th century, many shirts came with detachable collars. This was an innovation adopted in the early 19th century, surprisingly in America. Most fashion innovation in the 19th century came from Europe. The detachable collar was invented in 1827 by an American housewife. By mid-century the detachable collar had become quite widespread for dress shirts. This was especially the case with Eton collars, an English fashion which became a staple for boys' wear. Detachable collars were an important labor saving device. Housewives had to wash an entire shirt when it was primarily the collar that wore out. Often the collar of a shirt wore out while the rest of the shirt was still serviceable.

Ruffs

The most elaborate collar was the ruffs worn my men and boys as well as women in the 16th century. A ruff was a neckpeace more than a collar. I was not attcahed to any shirt-like garment. It was made of lace, lawn, or other fabric. It was gathered or drawn into deep, full, symetrical folds. It was very popuar with men and women in the 16th century. Given the cost it woyld be primarly affluent people who wore them.








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Created: 11:37 PM 8/17/2012
Last updated: 11:37 PM 8/17/2012