Boys' Suit Jackets: Stylistic Elements--Lapels

Figure 1.--These American brothers were from Spencerville, Ohio. They look to be about 6-10 years old. Notice how high up on the jacket the lapels of the older boy are placed. These are notched lapels. The cabinent card portrait is undated, but looks to have been taken in the 1890s.

The lapel was a creation of the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars. Not one knows for sure who created the lapel. The general believe is that an officer in the heat of battle or perhaps during manuvers on a hot day, opened his tigthly buttoned coat at the collar and folded it back. From that poit on the lapel became the major feature of men's suit. It is essentially a vertical extension of the collar. There are three basic types of collars: notch, peak, and shawl. The most common type for boys' suits has been the notch lapel, but this has varied over time. The placement and width of the lapel has also varied widely over time. Some lapels were small and set high up on the suit. And they varied greatly in width. There has a been a constant cycle over time as lapel widths have cycled and recycled every conceivable width over time. A good example of wide lapels is an American boy, Joe Meyer, we think in the 1870s. Lapel widths can thus be used to help date photographs. While lapels were a essential element of a man's suit jacket, some boys' jackets were made without lapels. The cut-away jacket worn in the 1860s was commonly made without lapels, altough not always. The cut-away jackets made for Little Lord Fauntleroy suits never had lapels. Collar buttoning jackts were widely worn in the late-19th century. We also note the Eton jackets worn by younger boys. The mandrid and Nehru collar also did not have lapels, but they were no commonly worn by boys.


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Created: 5:11 AM 2/2/2009
Last updated: 5:11 AM 2/2/2009