Figure 1.--This image shows a Rugby knicker suit adverized by an Australian department store at the turn of the 19th century. It was available for boys from 6-13 years of age at a standard price and for older boys in two youth styles for a higher price.
There are two types of clothing named after England's famous Rugby school, both suits and shirts. Rugby shirts was a term used in Britain. Rugby suit seems to have been more of an American term meaning short pants suit. The term appears to reflect styles associate with Rugby unifoems. The sport is played with short pants, thus Rigby suits are short pants suits. The Rugby shirt was often played with shirts that buttoned nly part of the way. Often boys played with horizontal striped shirts. Rufby shirts are shirts that button only part of the way, both with and without the horizonral stripes.
HBC speculated that Rugy suits might have been an American style, in much the same way that colarless Eton suits for small boys became. HBC has noted, however, references to Rugby suits in other countries. I have inquired with my English contributors and they have not heard of Rugby suits made for English boys. This requires some further investigation, however, as Rugby suits were being metioned in Australian advertisements at the turn of the 20th century.
T he "Rugby Suit" was made for American boys. HBC speculated that Rugy suits might have been an American style, in much the same way that colarless Eton suits for small boys became. HBC has noted, however, references to Rugby suits in other countries. I have inquired with my English contributors and they have not heard of Rugby suits made for English boys. This requires some further investigation, however, as Rugby suits were being metioned in Australian advertisements at the turn of the 20th century. Based on the fact that the suits here are called Rugby suits meaning that they were short pants suits, Rugby being a sport played with short pants uniforms. Also the term helped to destinguish them as having regular suit jackets rather than lapelless Eton suits. They were common in the American mail order catalogs from about 1930 to at least 1960. See Sears and Ward's catalogs for this time slot. good example is Sears 1941 Rugby suits. Basically it was more grownup than the Eton suit, as the jacket had a collar. The pants were shorts. Sometimes sold with slacks
to make a "Junior Longie" outfit.
Rugby suits seem to have had the same meaning in Australia as Ameruca, namely suits with some kined of short-length pnts. Advertisements from Australian department stores advertise Rugby suits for boys from 6 to 13 years of age. They were knicker/knnepants suits in a variety of materials, including fancy mixed tweeds, west of England tweeds, all wool fancy worsteds, navy serge fine twills, indigo dye soft finish, and all wool sergette. Knickers with straps or buckles to fasten below the knee cost a shilling extra. Youth sizes 1 and 2 cost 2 pounds 6 shillings extra. I believe this were the larger sizes for boys older than 13 years. The suits consisted of a coat, vest, and "plain" knickers. I'm not sure what the term "plain" knickers meant, but was probably knickers without buckles to fasten below the knee.
HBC believes that Rugby suits were being marketed in England at the turn of the century. No information, however, has yet been obtained on this style in England. We believe te term was used more in America and Australia.
Rugby shirts are the horizonal-striped "T" shirts in bold colors with
a white collar and partial front buttons. They were very popular in
America during the 1970s-80s. For actual Rugby matches they were worn with short
grey flannel short pants. They became a popular casual style for American boys during the 1970s. The grey school shirts worn by English boys during the 1950s included
some with Rugby styling. This meant that the buttons only went half way
down the front of the shirt. They were worn with ties like other grey
shirts for everyday school wear. (White shirts with normal styling
were for special occasions.) Repton and Litchfield shirts were
similar. (Repton is another English Public school.) While these shirts went out of fashion in England during the 1960s, they are still regular wear at New Zealand schools.
Rugby is another form of football. It is named after the English public (exclusive private) school) where some of the modern rules were developed. American
football has evolved from Rugby. In many ways it is an anomaly. It became along with cricket, the principal sports (games) played at public schools and of interest
to upperclass English. This appears a contradiction in that the sport requires enormous physical strength, extensive physical contact, and played in the English
autumn is an often muddy, filthy slog. The public schools in turn rejected football (soccer), an elegant game requiring more finess and with less physical contact.
Football proceeded to become the game of choice of the working class and virtually the entire rest of the world, except America.
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