Velvet Suits


Figure 1.--This photograph of the son of ? Stanford, the railorad tycoon and founder of Stanford University was taken in 1873. He wears a velvet suit with a small jacket and lace collar.

Velvet was originally a luxurious fabric made from silk and was very expensive. Modern immitation velvets are often made from synthetic fibers (acetate, nylon, rayon, and others). The fabric has a thick, soft pile formed by loops of the warp thread, either cut at the end or left uncut. Velvet sometimes has a cotton backing. Velvet was first made in China. The term first appears in European litterature in the 13th Century. It was used to produce fine garments for wealthy individuals. The colors of velvet suits ranged widely, but included many bright colors like red. Velvet of various colors, usually dark, was commonly used in the late 19th Century to produce better boys' party suits, especially Little Lord Fautntleoy suits. In the 20th Century boys dress suits are sometimes made of velvet, especially Eton suits for small boys. It is particularly popular for boys suits around the Christmas holiday season. Velvet trim was commonly used for trim on the lapels of better coats for small children. We notice younger boys in many different countries wearing velvet suits.

Material

Velvet was originally a luxurious fabric made from silk and was very expensive. Modern immitation velvets are often made from synthetic fibers (acetate, nylon, rayon, and others). The fabric has a thick, soft pile formed by loops of the warp thread, either cut at the end or left uncut. Velvet sometimes has a cotton backing. Velvet was first made in China. The term first appears in European litterature in the 13th Century. It was used to produce fine garments for wealthy individuals.

Color

The colors of velvet suits ranged widely, but included many bright colors like red. Velvet of various colors, usually dark, was commonly used in the late 19th Century to produce better boys' party suits, especially Little Lord Fautntleoy suits.

Chronology

Velvet has been used used for boys clothing since specilized boys clothing becamed widely accepted during the late-18th Century. Velvet was a popular material for the skeltons suiys appdaring in the late 18th century. We do not have much information on the early 19th century, but we do notice velvet suits in the mid-19th century. We notice younger boys in many different countries wearing velvet suits. Many images of boys in different countries are archived on HBC. We have not yet linked them here, but plan to do so. A good example is matching velvet suits worn by the Caplain brothers in France during the 1860s. We note two German brothers wearing identical velvet suits in 1864. We also note German brothers in the 1880s. And of course many of the Fauntleroy so popular in America during the late 19th century were velvet suits. In the 20th Century boys dress suits are sometimes made of velvet, especially Eton suits for small boys. It is particularly popular for boys suits around the Christmas holiday season. Velvet trim was commonly used for trim on the lapels of better coats for small children.

Early Velvet Suits

Velvet has been used used for boys clothing since specilized boys clothing becamed widely accepted during the late-18th Century. Many better skeleton suits were made from velvet. Skeleton suits were often made in bright colors like red, rather than the more muted colors subsequently used for Fauntleroy suits in the late 19th Century. Velvet was an expensive, luxury fabric. Thus velvet skeleton suits and other velvet garments were mostly worn by aristocratic or wealthy families. I'm not sure how commonly velvet was used in the mid-19th Century after skeleton suits passed out of style. Suits composed of jackets and increasingly kneepants became increasingly common in the 187os. Some were worn with fancy lace collars. Some boys wore these velvet suits and lace collars well before the style was popularized by Mrs. Frances Hogdson Burnett in the 1880s.


Figure 2.--This English drawing show a boy wearing a plushy green velvet Fauntleroy suit. The boys wears kneepants pants, long stockings, and a ruffled collar. The drawing probably dates to the 1890s.

Fauntleroy Suits

The Fauntleroy suits which first appeared in the 1880s lasted through the 1910s as one of the major styles for boys' party suits. Not all Fauntleroy suits were made in velvet, but it was the most common material for the classic suits. It was generally the material chosen by affluent families for their son's party suit. Most mothers that could afford it, chose velvet in black and other dark colors. There were some exceptions to this for summer suits, but velvet was the most popular material. Colors varied. Black was the most common color, but not nearly aspopular as commonly assumed. Velvet suits in dark hues of royal blue, forrest green, brown, and burgandy were also commonly worn. The Fauntleroy suit was the first choice of many mothers through the 1900s. Less elaborate versions continued into the 1920s, but this basically disappeared from the boys' fashion scene. The Fauntleroy suit was one of the most elaborate ever worn by boys and one of the most unpopular with them.


Figure 3.--The velvet suits worn by boys for formal occasions since the 1940s were much more plain than the classic Fauntleroy suits. These brothers in the 1970s wear identical short pants velvet suits with Peter Pan collars. They also wear white knee socks and strap shoes.

Other suits

We note a variety of other velvet suits. One was a kind of tuedo suit worn by an American boy, Roy Chapman Hodgson, in the 1890s.

Modern velvet suits

Velvet suits did not entirely disappear after the Fauntleroy era. Some mothers continued to dress young boys in velvet suits. The styles were much less elaborate than the orinal Fautleroy suits. Very young boys might be dressed fancy one-piece suits with lace trim or ruffles. These suits had shortpants or blommer-style bottoms. Somewhat older boys no longer worn with lace or ruffled collars. Peter Pan collars without bows or Eton collars were commonly worn. The jackets were worn like normal suit jackets or the collarless Eton jackets. They were usually worn with short pants, often with white knee socks. This style was geerally associated with wealthy familes or formal events such as the family Christmas or Ester portrait. They were often worn at formal weddings, usually by the ring bearer. The modern velvet suit was not worn with sausage curls, but it was also not commonly worn with short hair styles.

Country Trends

We notice younger boys from affluent families in many different countries wearing velvet suits. Velvet was an expensive fabric and was popular among affluent families in many different countries. We have found many photographic images fom a variety of countries wearing a range of velvet suits. Many images of boys in different countries are archived on HBC. We have not yet linked them here, but plan to do so. A good example is an unidentified Canadian boy, we think in the 1860s. We note an unidentified English boy wearing a velvet suit in the 1870s. Another example is matching velvet suits worn by the Caplain brothers in France during the 1860s. We note two German brothers wearing identical velvet suits in 1864. We also note German brothers in the 1880s. We see more American boys earing velvet suits than in any other country. Here the Funtleroy Craze was a major factor. And of course many of the Fauntlroy so popular in America during the late 19th century were velvet suits.

Additional Information









HBC






Navigate te different Fauntleroy eras:
[Main Fauntleroy page]
[Material: Velvet] [Velvet suits]
[Early velvet suits] [Classic period] [Edwardian period] [Final era] [Modern velvet suits]



Other Related HBC Pages:
[Fauntleroy dresses] [Collars] [Vivian Benett] [Fauntleroy patterns]
[Dresses] [Kilts] [Smocks] [Pinafores] [Sailor Hats] [Blouses]
[Ring Bearers] [Long hair] [Sasuage curls] [Hair bows] [Bangs] [Collars] [Bows]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]




Created: April 11, 1999
Last updated: 11:09 PM 9/9/2010