The classic Fauntleroy suit was a black or dark blue velvet suit with knee-length velvet trousers. Some mothers in the 1880s and the 1890s were enchanted with the Mrs. Benetts' Fauntleroy suit, but did not believe their boys, who were still wearing dresses, were quite ready to be breeched. As a result, Fauntleroy suits appeared as one-piece dresses and interchangeable suits with blouses and jackets that could be worn with skirts or kilts rather than the knee-length pants that most boys saw as the only redeeming feature of the otherwise rather unpopular garb--at least with the wearer as mothers adored them. We have slowly been acquiring information in this topic. In doing so, we have found it necessary to be very precise about terminology and the different skirted garments.
Young boys wore dresses throughout the 19th Century. Dresses are one piece garments without separate jackets and skirts. In many cases they were styles indistinguishable from their sisters with ruffles and lace. Some dresses were marketed as boys or girls dresses, but many were simplly labeled as children's dresses--suitable for boys or girls. Many mothers might choose the plainer styles for their sons, but others preferred the same more elaborate styles worn by their daughters. In such matters it was up to the preference of the mother. Often if a boy had an older sister, he would wear her old dresses. Thus the Fauntleroy-style dresses were not great departure. Such dresses appeared in the late 1880s and were popular until after the turn of the century. They departed from the style of making dresses for boys plainer than those for girls. Fauntleroy dresses were worn by the younger boys. An example is an American boy, Carl P. Weber, about 1895.
The skirt is distinct from a dress as it is only the lower part of the dress. The skirts worn by boys, however, were mostly bodice skirts with a top used to hold up the skirt. The top bodice, hiwever, was an undergarment and a blouse and jacket were worn over it. The boy had to wear a blouse as the boddice prevented him from wearing a shirt with tails that had to be tucked in. The skirt was made of the same material as the jacket to be worn with it and was destinguished from the kilt in that it was not plaid. I am not sure about the age range for Fauntleroy suits with skirts, but it was probably worn by older boys than Fauntleroy dresses.
The kilt was very similar to the skirt. The ones made for boys were often boddice kilts and thus had to be worn with blouses. There were two types of kilt outfits. 1) Kilt suits: The suits were commonly called kilt suits, as the kilt-skirt usually matched the jackets as they were made of the same material--generally dark muted plaid rather than velvet. Thus these kilts, usually bodice-style kilts, looked more like skirts than kilts. Some of the kilt suits were in the double breasted style. The classic Fauntleroy suit had a small jackets worn open to show a fancy blouse, elaborately trimmed in lace and ruffles. The kilt suit, on the other hand a large, substantial jackets which was worn c;oused. Thus there was no need to wear it with fancy blouses like the classic Fauntleroy suit. Often a Fauntleroy kilt suit would be worn with a large lace collar attached to the jacket instead of a fancy blouse. 2) Fauntleroy kilts: The kilts worn with Fauntleroy jackets, however, could be quite bright plaids as they contrasted with the black or dark colored velvet jacket. As the kilt was not considered to be a girlish garnment, quite old boys were sometimes dressed in kilted Fauntleroy suits. Fauntleroy kilt had a skirt with a more distinctive Scottish plaid kilt, but was worn with a Fauntleroy jacket and lace collar.
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