Zouave Uniform Outfits: Country Trends


Figure 1.--Here we see an American boy wearing a full Zouave suit, not just a fancy suit with Zouave styling, complete with a musket. He hs a kind of stocking cap rather than a fez. We see a fancy, embridered and certainly colorful vest-like top. There is an elaborate waist band which hangs dfown in front. The outfit is completed with the charactristic baggy trousersm and puttes. It is likly that the cap and top was red and the trousers Federal blue. We don't think that this was a studio costume and prop. More likely his father served in a Zouave unit during the Civil War. There were New Youk Zouaves. The writing on the back is difficult to read, but looks something like Roldolfo Teebez. Click here to see the writing if you think you can make it out better. Roldolfo looks to be about 8 years old. The caninet card is done with a mount looking rather liike a CDV. The portrait was taken in March 1883, two decades after the Civil War. The studio was Thomas on 6th Avenue, meaning New York City.

We are not entirely sure about Zouave suit country trends at this time. One might expect that they would have been most popular in France. Our archive of French images, howeer, is not large enough to substabntiate this, especially 19th century images. We do note commercia post cards from the early 20th century showing French boys wearing Zouave uniforms. This is not, however, a good indicator of actual usage. Zouave styles were also popular in America, especially when military units were organized with Zouave uniforms. HBC is unsure at this time as to what other countries Zouave uniforms were worn. An observer writes, "Boy’s clothing of the Moorish-styled Zouave pantaloons and jackets first appeared in France in the 1840’s and 50’s, but rapidly migrated to England and America. With the rise of Elmer Ellsworth’s Zouave Cadet Units, in America, in the late 1850’s, the desire for Zouave styled clothing also rose. Throughout the war years, Zouave jackets were worn as a show of patriotism. Boys wanted to wear military styled clothing and the stories of bravery and heroism that were printed about the Zouave units added to the popularity. Illustrations appeared in the many of the publications of the day showing young lads dressed in these uniforms, much like this one from La Mode Illustree in 1861." [Harriman] As might be expected, they do not seem to have been very common in England and Germany, although unadorned cut-away jackers were commonly worn.

France

One might expect that they would have been most popular in France. After all it was a French military style which appeared in France's North African colonies. We have, however not found a lot of French Zouave images. Our archive of French images, however, is not large enough to substantiate this, especially 19th century images. The small number of images we have found might just reflect our small archive. We do note commercia post cards from the early 20th century showing French boys wearing Zouave uniforms. This is not, however, a good indicator of actual usage.

America

Zouave styles were also popular in America, especially when military units were organized with Zouave uniforms during the Civil War (1861-65). Most of the images we have found are American. This may reflect our more substantial American archive. HBC is unsure at this time as to what other countries Zouave uniforms were worn. An observer writes, "Boy’s clothing of the Moorish-styled Zouave pantaloons and jackets first appeared in France in the 1840’s and 50’s, but rapidly migrated to England and America. With the rise of Elmer Ellsworth’s Zouave Cadet Units, in America, in the late 1850’s, the desire for Zouave styled clothing also rose. Throughout the war years, Zouave jackets were worn as a show of patriotism. Boys wanted to wear military styled clothing and the stories of bravery and heroism that were printed about the Zouave units added to the popularity. Illustrations appeared in the many of the publications of the day showing young lads dressed in these uniforms, much like this one from La Mode Illustree in 1861." [Harriman] A good example are two American boys, Charles and Harland Russell, during the 1860s. We not only see these outfits during the Civil War, but for two decades after the War, probably involving Civil War veterns outfitting their boys in Zouave outfits. The New Yorl boy here is a good example (figure 1). As might be expected, they do not seem to have been very common in England and Germany, although unadorned cut-away jackers were commonly worn.

England

We note many English boys wearing cut-away jackets in the 1860s and 70s. We do not, however, see them wearing Zouave-styled suits. We are not sure, however, if our rather limited 19th century archive may be a factor. Lingering negative attitudes toward the French could also be a factor here.

Germany

Nationalist attitudes probably precluded the popularity of Zouave outfits in Germany. A German reader writes, "I see a lot of old portaits of American boys wearing Zouave-style cut-away jackets, but they are not very common in European. I have not found aportrait of a German boys wearing them.

Italy

Garabaldi and the Italian nationalists who unified Italy had uniforms which suggest a Zouave influence. The Ppacy formed the Zuavi Pontifici. The would prove the most rliable unit in the Papal Army. They were mostly young unmarried men and of course fervently Roman Catholic. They volunteered to support Pope Pius IX in his struggle against the Garabaldi and the Italian unificationist Risorgimento. They adopted a similar uniform to that of the French Zouaves but in grey with red trim. A grey and red kepi was worn rather than the North African fez. Italy once united, also wanted North African colonies, both Libya and Tunisia. A conflict with France developed over Tunisia. Italy finally seized Libya just before World War I. Unlike the French, however, they never formed Zouave units. We have not yet found images of Italian boys wearing Zouave outfits.

Sources

Harriman, Lynne. Timeless Stitches. E-Mail message, January 31, 2006.






HBC







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Created: 8:05 PM 2/6/2008
Last updated: 8:28 AM 1/31/2017