Fauntleroy Garments


Figure 1.--This boy wears a classic Fauntleroy suit with a small jacket and large frilly blouse.

A boy's Fauntleroy suit might consist of a wide-brimmed sailor hat or floppy tam, a frilly blouse with aruffled or lace collar and wrist trim, a velvet jacket, velet kneepants or kilt, long stockings, and a variety of foot wear. The various combinations or endless as were the different alternatives. A boy rather than wearing a fancy blouse might have a button up jacket with a lace collar sewn on. Stockings and footwear also varied considerably. The partcular styles and combinations varied considerably over time.

Headwear

A boy's Fauntleroy suit might consist of a wide-brimmed sailor hat or floppy tam, but there were many other choices. The most formal choice was the wide brimmed sailor hat with a long streamer and held on with an elastic chin strap. For less formal occasion, floppy tams were very popular. The wide-brimmed sailor hats wre particularly popular in the 1890s, but had begun to decline in popularity in the 1900s as sailor caps began to be more commonly worn. There were many other styles of hats worn with Fauntleroy suits.

Blouses

The classic Little Lord Fauntleroy suit was worn with a small velvet jacket worn open at the front to best display an elaborately ruffled and lace trimed blouses. Not only could the collar be quite large, but elaborate trim might also be applied at the front. The blouse was often the most important part of a boy's Fauntleroy suit. The blouses came in a miriad of materials and styles. Generally the trim at the wrist matched the collar. During the summer the bouse might be worn without the jacket.


Figure 2.--This Chicago boy wears a sailor suit that has an added lace collar, cuff trim, sash, and other Fauntleroy featurs. Notice the extra white bow instead of a black sailor kerchief.

Collars

The collars which make up an entegral part of the Fauntleroy style varied greatly. Many of the classic velvet Fauntleroy were worn with esquisite lace collars. This was especially true in the 1880s and early 90s. This lace could be quite expensive. The ruffled collars that became more common after the tirn of the 20th century were most commonly part of the blouse. Some boys, however, wore collars sewn onto the jacket. Usually separate collars were lace. The collars also varied greatly in size and shape. Some of the collrsere huge, almost hiding the small Fauntleroy jacket. Often the cuffs were made to match the collar.

Cuffs

An almost obligatory element of a Fauntleroy suit was a large, fancy collar. Many, but not all Fauntleroy suits had matching, equally fancy wrist cuffs. HBC is not sure about the precise construction of the fancy wrist cuffs which were often worn to match the ruffled or lace collars in Fauntleroy outfits. Some of the collars and ciuffs were part of fancy blouses. Others appear to have been separate items sewn on to the jackets. One HBC contributor believes that they were worn with cuff links. HBC is less sure of this and has not noticed cufflinks in either the photographic records of these suits or mentioned in the accompanying literature. The cuffs of course normally wee part of the blouse. Unlike the collars which could be pinned on, the cuffs were simply exyensions of the blouse sleeves that were turned over. A good example is the blouse worn by Robert Mason Hamilton, a Chicaho boy in 1897.

Bows

Large bows of varying patterns and colors were commonly worn with the large lace collrs common with classic suits. The lace collars were always buttoned, never with open collar arrangements. After the turn of the century, bows were less common with the increasingly popular ruffled collars. Some ruffled collars were worn open.

Jacket

Fauntleroy suit styles varied considerably with a great variery of patterns available to the discerning, fashion conscious mother. As most available photographs only show the front of the jacket, we mostly know about the back from designs published on The Delineator and other publications. Jackets were often shaped at the back with a curving center seam. Many jackets had side pockets at the front and were closed at the front with button-holes and buttons. Some were designed not to be closed to better show elaborately lace trimed blouses. Some jacket had slits cut at the back.

Capes

We have noted a few images of boys wearing capes with Fauntleroy outfits. This does not appear to have been a common garment. We have not noted in America. We note boys wearing both instead of a jacket as well as a jacket. We note these capes in Britain, but they were not very common. One example is a Scottish boy who had his portrait taken about 1910.

Pants

American boys mostly wore Fauntleroy suits with kneepants. We have never seen long pants Fauntleroy suits. We have seen Fauntleroy suits worn with bloomer knickers, especially in Britain and Europe. Short pants have also been worn with Fauntleroy suits, but not normally the classic suits worn before the turn of the 20th century. The better suits were lined with three buttons at the hem. The buttons were purely ornamental.Button holes at the waist allowed the Fauntleroy blouse to be buttoned on. I'm not sure yet about the normal arrangements of pockets. Some pants had two front pockets, I do not know if back pockets were common. The suits at first had pants or trousers cut at or below the knee. The most common style had pants which reached a little below the knees. Often closing was made at the sides near the hem of the pants with button-holes and buttons. Usually there were three buttons near the hem of the trouser leg. Some pants had more prominent buttons.

Skirted Fauntleroy Garments

The classic Little Lord Fauntkeroy suit was made to be worn with knee pants. Many mothers with younger boys still in dresses and not yet ready for boyish pants, were so entralled with the Fauntleroy style that they began dressing their sons in various styles of Fauntleroy dresses. Latter they may have chosen Fauntleroy suits with skirts or kilts rather than long pants. Normally a Fauntleroy dress would have been worn by younger boys and a Fauntleroy suit with knee pants by older boys. A Fauntleroy suit with a kilt rather than knee pants could be worn by quite old boys.

Sash

A formal Fauntleroy suit was worn with a silk or satin sash. This might add a splash of color to the dark colored velvet suit. Red was a popular color. Some sashes, however, were white or a dark color to complement the color of the suit.

Hosiery

The classic Fauntleroy was worn with long dark stockingsby American boys. After the turn of the 20th century white stockings and white stickings of varying length were increasingly popular. Long dark stockings, however, comtinued to be worn for formal occasions--not only with Fauntleroy suits bit othervourfits as well. Long dark stockings were not as pervasive in Europe. Another variable was the summer. Practical American nons often let younger boys go barefoot in the summer--even when dresses in formal outfits like Faintkeroy suits. HBC believes that this was also common in the antipodes--Australia and New Zealand. This was not common, however, in Europe where summers were shorter amd bare feet were estentially seen as a an expression of poverty.

Shoes

Boys generally wore clunky looking boot shoes with classic Fauntleroy suits. By the turn of the century, stap and buckle shoes had became increasingly common.

Dressing Up

Dressing up in a formal Fauntleroy suit could be a complicated process. Tie the bow was the most complicated, but all the buttons and clasps were a bit difficult, especially for a younger boy. Thus help from mother or nanny was often needed.






HBC






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Created: August 12, 1999
Last updated: 10:41 PM 10/24/2008