We have begun to build a glossary of boys' clothing terms. As boys clothes until the 19th century was the same as adult male clothing, we have included many applicable men's clothing terms. We have also included some women's terms as younger boys commonly wore dresses until the 20th century. As HBC is extensively used by non-native English speakers we plan to give considerable attention to this glossary so that words can be looked up. It will also serve as an index as we will provide links to the appropriate pages. We eventually hope to add foreign words, but that will take some time.
Dance: Dance is a series of artistically rhymetic movements of the body expressing emotions. People are born with an inate need to move. Children in particular are not only able but eager to move. This is a basic instinct; we all take a natural joy in movement. Dancers take this instinct along with another basic human instinct--to excel--and impose upon themselves the discipline of dance training. It is usually, however, not the boys themselves who chose to pursue dance. There are some natinal differences here. Russian boys seem eager from an early age. American boys may need considerable urging--often from mother. Dance training is available through various dance programs. Younger boys often participated in school dance programs. Older boys had the ritual of learning social dancing. Other boys participated in ethnic dance while some pursued various forms of clasical dance such as ballet or tap.
Dancing lessons: Learning to dance has been a nettlesome issue for many boys, much more interested in baseball and football. The girls looked forward with enthusiasm to dance class. Many boys, however, were sent off to dancing school only after considerable resistance to learn the box step. But learning the social graces, as any mother can tell you, was one of the necessary steps in growing up. Mothers for there part could never undrstand why boys objected so much to dancing lessons. After all, they remember the experience as girls and they had thoroughly enjoyed it. Many boys, however, often remember the experience with considerable distaste. Formal dancing lessons have become less common in the modern era. Many boys do, however, receive dancing lessons at school. The private schools make a special effort in this area, but dancing lessons are also offered at many state schools.
Dashiki: A dashiki is a usually brightly colored loose-fitting pullover garment, rather like a oncho or tunic. Dashiki became popular in the 1970s with Black Americans and hippies. They were not, however, commonly worn by younger boys.
Décolletage: This term refers to the neckline of a dress. It is often used to describe the plunching necklines of women's dresses in the early 19th century--namely a strapless dress or one with a plunging neckline. Children, both girls and young boys, in the early 19th century wore similarly styled dresses, althought not with the dfaring necklines of fashionable women of the time. HBC notes that some slightly older boys not yet ready for trousers might wear their dresses with blouses. See, for example, a 1838 German painting.
Deerstalker: A deerstalker was a close-fitting cap with a visor at the front and at the back and with earflaps that may be worn either up or down. It was popular in England during the late 19th century and is often associated with the myster book hero--Sherlock Holmes. It was not a style commonly worn by younger boys.
Derby hat: See "Bowler hat".
Diadem: The diadem was a crown, usually used to describe a ornnamental headband used as a symbol of royal rank. The term appeared in the later part of the 13th century.
Dickey: A dickey (also spelled "dickie") or "shield" is a garment that resembles the front or collar of a shirt and is worn as a separate piece under a jacket, dress, or in the case of the sailor suit under the middy blouse. The dickie is soimetimes refeered to as a vest. In some cases the dickey was a small piece just covering the "v" of the middy blouse to fill in the neckline. Other alternatives were to actually attach the dickey to the middy blouse. Dickies could be plain or have an embroidered design. There were also stripped dickies. In other cases a kind of "t" shirt was worn under the middy blouse. This was the case for the French-style horizonal stripe shirts that served as dickies.
Diaper: The term diapper has several very different meanings. The most common meaning in America today is a basic garment for infants consisting of a folder cloth or other absorbent material drawn up between the legs and fastened about the waist. In America they are now disposable paper products. In Britain and former British colonies they are reffered to as "nappies". The term is also used to describe a soft, white linen or cotton fabric used for tablecloths or towels. It was also used for a a fabric with a distinctive pattern and a rich silk fabric.
Dimity: Dimity is a thin cotton, plain weave fabric that is woven with a stripe or check of heavier yarn. Dimity is woven with a crosswise or lenghtwise spaced rib or crossbar effect. It can be a thin sheer with corded spaced stripes that can have single, double or triple grouping. Dimity commionly has a crisp texture which remains fairly well after washing. Resembles another popular 19th century pabric, lawn, in white. It is commonly regarded as easy to sew and manipulate and launders well. May be bleached, dyed, or printed. The most common print was a small rose-bud design. It is mercerized and has a soft lustre. Commonly used for children's dresses, women's dresses, and blouses, infant's wear, collar and cuff sets, basinettes, bedspreads, curtains, underwear. Often considered as having a very young look.
Dirk: The Dirk is a long knife, and its sheath sometimes houses a smaller knife and a fork. The origin of this arrangement was that the long knife was the conventional hunting knife, and the smaller utensils were for eating. Today, the scabbard and handles are black with silver ornimentation. The dirk is an ornament of Highland dress worn in the kneesocks.
Dirndl: A dirndl is a dress with tight bodice, short sleeves, low neck, and a full, gathered skirt. It is geberally associated with the Tyrol. Folk costumes in Austria and Germany often consists of boys wearing lederhosen and girls wearing dirndls and braided hair.
Doff: Doffing was the act of partially removing a hat by men and boys as a sign of respect. English schools boys were expected to tip their caps to the masters (teachers) and adult members of te school staff.
Doublet: Jacket-style outer garment worn by men.
Dress: Skirted garment worn by girls and women. Young boys also wore dresses through the early 20th century.
Drum major: The marching leader of a pipe band. The drum major marches in front of the band and carries the mace.
DWR: Durable Water Repellent. A Teflon, silicone, or other treatment on the outside of a fabric to provide moderate water protection, yet maintain breathability. Available in spray cans from outdoor shops and discount stores.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main glossary page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Bibliographies] [Biographies] [Contributions] [Countries] [FAQs] [Photography] [Style Index]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web chronological pages:
[Return to the Main chronological page]
[The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s] [The 1990s] [The 2000s]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
[Blazers] [Jackets] [Long pants suits] [Kilts] [Sailor suits] [Knickers] [Eton suits]
[Fauntleroy suits] [Hair styles] [Youth groups]