Norfolk Jackets and Suits: Countries


Figure 1.--These American siblings were photographed in the 1900s although specifically when during the decade we are not sure. The two boys look to be about 7-9 years old and wear Norfolk jackets with long stockings. One curious aspect is that they wear white dickeys normally. The family does not look very prosperous. The children have had their hair quickly combed but it does not look like their was very carefully cared for by mother. The dickeys may have been cheaper than a shirt, collar, and tie. The boys have above-the- knee knickers (they don't match the jackets) and long dark stockings with hightop button shoes. The girl wears a belted dress with a rather longish skirt. The gender of the baby is ambiguous. It could be either a boy or a girl, but by the 1900s a child wearing a dress like this almost certainly was a girl. The doll looks as though it has a china painted head. Click on the image for a furher discussion.

The Norfolk suit was created in England and no where was it so widely worn as is England. HBC has noted it being commonly worn in Britain during the late 19th century. It was initially an adult style for country wear, but became a popular styles for boys. The Norfolk suit also became a very popular style in America. The Norfolk suit appears to have been most popular in Britain and America, but it was worn in many other countries as well. HBC has noted that is was very commonly worn by American boys from about 1900-1930. HBC is not sure as to what other countries it was popular. We have noted it in French fashion magazines during the early 20th century. We believe that it was worn in several other countries as well.

America

The Norfolk suit also became a very popular style in America. HBC has noted that is was very commonly worn by American boys from about 1900-1930. We note American clothing catalogs with pages offering several different styles of Norfolk jackets. We also note many American photographs showing boys commonly wearing Norfolk jackets. The Norfolk suit appears to have been most popular in Britain and America, but it was worn in many other countries as well. A Polish researcher asks us how we can be sure that the Norfolk jacket was more popular in America and Britain than elsewhere in Europe. Here are primary source of information is available photographic portraits and clothing catalogs. Our access is much greater to American and to a lesser extent British material, so we could be wrong about this and encourage our European readers to add their insights and available information. A good example is a boy on a camping trip about 1915.

Canada

We do not yet havbve much information on Norfolk suits in Canada. We notice George Bowditch wearing a knickers suit with Norfolk styling anout 1930. His jackek has the belt commonlu used with knicker suits, but nit the veryical vents.

England

The Norfolk suit was created in England and no where was it so widely worn as is England. The Norfolk jacket is modeled after the hunting suit worn on the estate of the English Duke of Norfolk in the early-19th century. (One source said 18th century, but I don't believe I have ever seen Norfolk jackets in 18th century paintings. Sportsmen on the Duke's estate reportedly first wore what we now call the Norfolk jacket. Guests included the Prince of Wales who became King George IV. Tradition has it that the Prince himself ordered a garment from his tailors that would allow him to swing a gun with grater ease that the tightly fitting, tailored suit jackets he wore. The Norfolk desisign had a loose, comfortable fit accross the soulders and chest. The jacket also had box pleats, two in the front and one in the rear which opened and clothes as the individual swivels about. It was a rare garment that was specifically designed rather than adapted for use in sports. It was also a waist-length jacket, We are not sure if it originally had matching trousers. Knickerbocker pants becme associated with it. We have less access to English clothing catalogs than in America, but we note many avialable British photographs showing boys commonly wearing Norfolk jackets. HBC has noted it being commonly worn in Britain during the late-19th century. It was initially an adult style for country wear, but became a popular styles for boys. Early images show vertical pleatrs. We do not begin to see the horizontal belts until the 20th century.

France

HBC has only limited information on French Norfolk suits at this time. We have noted it in French fashion magazines during the early 20th century. A good example is the Au Bon Marché Department store in 1911 which offered a knickers Norfolk suit. We do not know at this time, however, just how popular the Norfolk suit was in France.

Germany

We note quite a few German boys in the early 20th century wearing Norfolk suits and jackets, at least belted jackets looking rather like Norfolk jackets. Many school portraits before and right after World War I show quite a few boys wearing Norfolk-style jackets. A good example here is the HBC 1910s German chronology page. One reader reports hearing a German tailor talking about a crease or pleat in the back of a "Norfolk Jacken" in combination with a belt or strap, a so-called "Golffalte" (golf pleat) that could run from the center of the back or alongside the sleeves. Other German terms associated with the Norfolk jacket included: Norfolk suits (Norfolkanzug, Nofolkpaletot) or suits in style of it (Norfolkform). At some schools Norfolk jackets were even more popular than sailor suits, but this varied from school to school and over time.

Other Countries

HBC is not sure as to what other countries it was popular. We believe that it was worn in several other countries as well.





HBC






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Created: November 24, 2001
Last edited: 1:21 AM 11/3/2014