Skirted Little Lord Fauntleroy Outfits: Kilt Suits


Figure 1.--This little American boy wears his a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit with a kilt rather than kneepants. Most boys with these outfits had balck velvet jackets. This boy has a jacket in the same plaid material as the kilt. Note the piping on his jacket and lacey pantalettes or petticoat he wears with it.

The classic Little Lord Fauntleroy suit was worn with kneepants or bloomer knickrs. Some mothers, however, were so enamored with the Fauntleroy look that they wanted to atire their younger sons who had not yet been breeched in the new Fauntleroy look. One option was a Fauntleroy jacket and blouse, but worn with a kilt or skirt. Some mothers also chose dresses with Fauntleroy styling. Often the kirts were referred to as kilts. Quite commonly they were plaid skirts, but not always. Only rarely were proper Highland kilts with full regalia worn, especially in America. . These boys were dressed in a typical Fautleroy jacket and lace collar, but with a kilt or frock instead of kneepants. The kilt was rarely a Scottish plaid, but made of the same material as the jacket. This fashion gave the apearance of a dress rather than a Scottish kilt. The Fauntleroy suit dress/kilt was particularly popular in the 1880s and early 1890s, but declined as the new century approached and the fashion of dressing small boys in dresses wained. The skirted Fauntleroy suits were generally for the younger boys. Some particularly doting mothers, however, decided to dress their older boys in a kilted Fautleroy suit, consisting of a lacey blouse and collar, and velvet jacket, just like the traditional Fauntleroy suit. The only difference was a kilt instead of kneepants. In such instances, the outfit of the older boy would generally be a plaid kilt looking like an actual Scottish kilt rather than the solid color kilt suits worn by the younger boys. Apparently, it was more acceptable for an older boy to wear an actual Scottish kilt than the more juvenile kilt suits where the jacket and skirt were made of the same material. I believe the tartans used were usually bright Higland patterns and not the muted plaids worn with kilt suits.

Chronology

We are not sure just when the Fauntleroy kilt suit first appeared. We initially though that it appered in the mid-1880s along with the Fauntlerou craze. Kilt suits were worn earlier, but not with Faiuntleroy blouses and jackets. We have found some Fauntleroy kilt imges, however, that look like they date to a somewhat earlier period. We note one unidentified Pennsylvania boy who looks to be wearing a Fauntleroy kilt suit about 1880 or so. The onlyway to definitively amswer this question, however, is through dated images which we are looking to find. The Fauntleroy kilt was commonly worn in the late-1890s, and early-1900s. We have found numerous examples in the photographic record. The Funtleroy kilt suit began to decline in popularity after the turn of the 20th century. Not only the Fauntleroy kilt suit, but Fauntleroy suits and kilts suitgs in general. These Fauntleroy kilt suits were not commonly seen by the 1910s. This foolowed the same chronological trends as the fashion of outfitting young boys in dresses.

Headwear

We are not sure just what headwear was worn with these Fauntlerpy kilt suits. Many of the available portraits show the boys without any headwear. We do know that the boys wore broad-brimmed hats, often with streamers. We think that this was probably the most common headwear. And we have photographic evidence conforming that these caps were worn with Fauntleroy kilt suits. Contemporary illustrations certainly suggest this. Our photgraphic evidence is more limited. Thus we are not entirely sure. The broad-brimmed hat certainly was not the only headwear. Here we need more information. we are just not sure what other styles were worn. WE suspect that one popular style was the Scottish Gemengary cap.

Jackets

The jackets for these outfits were generally small jackets without lapels, designed to be worn open so that the elaborate lace trimmed blouse could be seen. The classic jacket was velvet, but many other materials were used. This was especially the case for either summer wear or for inexpenive outfits. Nlack velvet jackets were especilly common when wirn with a tartan kilt. Jackers worn as kilt suits matching the skirt were less commonlybvelvet. While the lace collar and usually matching cuffs were the most prominent feature of the blouse, there was often elaborate matching trim at the front of the blouse. The velvet jacket for these Fauntleroy kilts was often black or some other dark color. Ths was not always the case. The jackets not made in velvet varied more widely in color. , but not always. A few jackets were made in plaid to match the kilt. Others were of the same plain material. These were different than kilt suits, however, in that kilt suits had jackets that were designed to be worn closed with a much less elaborate blouse. The kilt suit jackets often had lapels. The jackets were normally plain, but some had varying detailing such as piping.


Figure 2.--This American boy wears a kilted outfit with a vest and lace collar, but no wrist trim. It has some characteristics of a kilt suit and some of a Fauntleroy kilt. The jacket does not appear to have a collar. Note how short the sleeves are. Presumably he has outgrown his suit and is about to be breeched. His outfit does not have wrist trim matching his lace collar, but there is velvet trim matching his vest.

Vests

Some of these Faauntleroy suits were worn with vests rather than fancy blouses. Usually a separate lace collar would be worn with a vest rather than an elaborate blouse. Sometimes features of the jacket, such as trim on the sleeves at the wrist would match the vest.

Kilt

The kilts of these suits varied. They were really skirts, but generally referred to as kilts, presumably being a term more approprite for a boy. Some were Scottish plaid. Unlike kilt suits, which used generally muted plaids, the plaids worn with Fauntleroy kilts could be, but were not necearily, much brighter plaids than worn with kilt suits. Other of these Fauntleroy kilts were clearly designs vaguly similar to plaid. Many were solid colors, almost always matching the jackets. White the plaid kilts were not worn with matching jackets, the solid color suits almost always did match. They also were almost always dark colors. I'm not sure about just what color

Collars and Bows

Large elaborate collars and boows were an important part of Fauntlerpoy styling. This of course was not just for Funtleroy kilt suits, but for the basic Fauntleroy suit. As far as we can tell the collars and bows worn with Fauntlerooy suits and Fauntkeroy kilt suits were identical. Funtleroy outfits were worn both with and without the bows, but the large fancy collars were a requestite part of any Fauntleroy outfit.

Bows

The collar bow was an important item for boys in the seconf half of the 19th andinto the early-20th century. The collar bow was not auniversal accesory for Fautleroy kilts and Fauntleroy suits, but it was a very common one. The first bows we see were fairly restrained affairs like ribbon bows. We note one unidentified Pennsylvania boy who looks to be wearing a Fauntleroy kilt suit about 1880 or so. But what is most associated with the Fauntleroy look is the large, often colorul floppy bow. The brightly colored bow contrasted with the generally black or dark colored suit. The bows were both solid collars and patterns. One of the most popular patterns was the colorful plaid, often red plaids.


Figure 3.--This American boy wears an amazingly fancy blouse with extesive lace and ruffled trim. Interestingly despite his blouse and not yet being breeches, he has a boyishly short haircut.

Collars

Mothers employed two basic types of lace collars with Fauntleroy outfits, fancy heavily trimmed blouses and separate lace collars pinned on to the jacket. The blouses were usually worn in the the 1880s with the pinned-on lace collars becoming more common in the 1890s. The lace collars were the same ones that might be worn with a classic Faintleroy suit.
Blouses: The first involved fancy blouses with lace collars and cuffs as well as front trim in many cases. These blouses varied greastly in style and trim. Some were amazingly fancy for a boy including ruffles and lace almost beyond belief. Others were quite plain.
Collars: The second involved a separate lace collar that was pinned on to the jacket. This was a less expensive approach to the Fauntleroy style. It is sometimes easy to determine which is which as the separate lace collar might not have matching wrist trim. Those that did, however, often look quite detincr to the fancy blouses.

Ages

These Fauntleroy kilts were generally worn by younger boys not yet ready for kneepants. This would mean generally boys befinning about 2/3 years. A good example here is "Elyde Synder & Elyde Porter. We see boys up to 5 or 6 years old wearing them. But because not all boys were breeched by 6 years of ages, some older boys might wear them. After age 6 when the boys began school they become much less common. In addition, some of these outfits were worn with actual Highland kilts. These were the most likely outfits to be worn by the older boys.

Length

The Highland kilt is worn at knee length. Fauntleroy kilts, however, like kilt suits were almost always worn at longer lengths. The bodice kilts worn by these boys appear often to be calf length. In part this reflected a desire to buy a larger size that their sons could grow into. Even so these kilts can be seen to have been worn well below the knees.

Stockings

American boys wearing Fauntleroy kilts almost always wore them with long dark stockings. British boys more commonly wore kneesocks with kilt outfits, but this was very rare in America. The long stockings were almost always dark stockings. This was in part because Fauntleroy kilts were worn in the 1880s and 90s and white stockings did not begin to be commonly worn by boys until after the turn of thye century.

Hair Styles

Boys in Fautleroy kilts wore a wide variety of hair styles. Some boys had already had their curls cut. Other boys wore long ringlet curls. Many other styles including bangs were worn by the boys in these Fauntleroy kilts. It is interesting to note the many varied hair styles and suits. You might think that the boys wearing the particulrly fancy Fauntleroy blouses would be the most likey to have long hair and ringlet curls. This was not always the case. Some mothers cut a boy's curls before breeching him, but still purchased fancy lave trimed blouses. Some mothers did not cut a boy's hair when he was breeched, but may have chosen a rather plain Fauntleroy blouse and lace collars.

Fauntleroy Dresses

These Fauntleroy kilts should not be confused with dresses that have Fauntleroy styling. The basic destinguishing characteristic was that the dresses were one-piece garments. They were often dark, solid colored dresses worn with large lace collars and often matching cuffs.

Country Trends

As far as we know, the Fauntkleroy kilt suit was primarily an American style. While we see kilt suits bing worn in other countries, primarily Britain, we have found few example of Fauntleroy kilt suiots in other countries. This may be do to the fact that we have an especially large American archive, but our archive for several European countries is substantial enough that we woild have notice Fauntleroy kilt suits if they were being worn to any extent. Nerver-ther-less we will continue to look for examples in other countries, there surely were at least a few as the Fauntleroy style was alsom popular in Europe, although not as popular as in America.

Indivdual Boys

HBC has noted quite a few boys wearing Fauntleroy kilts. This was a very popular style and widely worn in the late-19th abd very early 20h century. We plan to link the various pages of boys wearing Fauntleroy kilts. We have, however, only begun that process.








HBC





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Created: February 24, 1999
Last updated: 8:20 PM 5/5/2017