Suffolk Suits

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.

Several styles of suits originated in England. The Eton and Rugby suits are named after the English schools where the styles originated. Two styles carry the names of English counties. The Norfolk suit was named after the Duke of Norfolk who first conceived of it. HBC does not yet know about the origins of the lesser known Suffolk suit. The origins must of course be English. An English reader writes, "The suffolk suit was evolved as a plowman's suit. made to a basic design, but tailored to the individual ploughman's requirements."


HBC believes that the Suffolk suit first appeared in the late 19th century, but cannot yet confirm this.


HBC is not yet sure just what was destinctive about the Suffolk suit. The few available images suggest that the Suffolk suit, like the Norfolk suit, was belted, but not as severely as its northern neighbor. The Suffolk suit had a small, but destinct high set lapel. Also while the Norfolk suit was commonly worn with an Eton collar, it was less common to wear a Suffolk suit with the Eton collar.

Country Trends

While the Suffolk suit was created in Engkland and most widely worn there, the style spread to several other countries.


No information available yet on the Suffolk suit in America.


Advertisements from the Australian department store F. Lassetter advertise Suffol suits for boys from 6 to 13 years of age. They were knicker suits in a variety of materials, including navy serge, indigo dye soft finish, fancy tweeds, English tweed, fancy worsteds, and all wool sergette. These suits came with plain knickers which I believe meant kneepants without closing at the hem. Strap or buckle closures were 1 pound 6 shillings extra. Apparently Suffolk suits with just plain knickers were available in galatea, crash, white drill, and holland. [HBC has noted these materials mentioned in other turn of the century garments, but has not yet found inormation on them. This is a topic, however, that HBC will pursue.] Lassetters also offered washing Suffolk suits in crash. In addidition Suffolk Hooland suits were available in duck, white drill and galtea. There were also black and striped lustre. 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 Suffolk suits were created in England during the late 19th century. They were commonly worn at the turn of the century, but not as popular as the Norfolk suit. An English reader writes, "The suffolk suit was evolved as a plowman's suit. made to a basic design, but tailored to the individual ploughman's requirements. One of the special features were horseshoe button on the pockets of the jacket. Unlike the Norfolk suit with its aristocratic origin from the Duke of the County, the Suffolk garment was a rustic working suit, make to the liking of individual ploughmen. Appently it was resented if other than ploughmen wore the suit. The suit is pictured on a painting by Sir Alfred Munnings 'The Horse fair at Lavenham, ( a market twon in Suffolk).


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Created: December 4, 1999
Last updated: 7:50 PM 9/23/2008