Boys' Clothing Glossary: "Sm-Sz"

Smock:Smocks are a loose, lightweight over garment worn to protect the clothing while working. Initially the smock was a garment for adult workers, especially farm workers. Eventually mothers faced with the need of protecting expensive garments from the hard wear associated with children began dressing their children in smocks. The smock by the late 19th century had become primarily a child's garment, although it was also wrn by shop workers, artists, and other adults. The smock was essentially a l arge shirt or overgarment with the fullness controlled by the smocking (embroidery on pleats). The use of smocking (the decorative embroidery can be easily traced to the 15th century). Albrecht Durer's Self Portrait (German) shows a smocked shirt, and the Mona Lisa (Italian) has a smocked chemise. The use of needlework to control fullness is a very old technique and became known as smocking. Smocking needle work continues today and is a popular addition to fancy collars as well as garments for younger children.

Smocked collar: His is a term HBC is still working on. I can only guess about the origin of the term smocked collar. As best I can determine the terms derives from the smocking which I believe developed in the 19th Century. At the time smocks were commonly work by working people throughout Europe. A section or panel of gathered fabric in the front of the smock was used to control the fulness of a smock. Some smocks with this smocking had decorative embroidery.

Smocking: Smocking today is generally associated with the English in the 19th century, although clothing historians believe it has much more ancient origins and was worn in many European countries. Smocking is basically embroidery on pleats. The material has to be pleated before smocking. It is a handicraft, some would say an artform that has been passed down through generations. Smocking is assocaited today with smocks, both adults and children in the 19th century wore smocked with decorative smocking. Smocking despite the clear reference to the smock garment can be done on all kinds of fabric for a wide variety of uses, such as curtains, apolestry, and much more. Of course our iunterest in HBC is with smocking on clothing. The primary garment here of course has been the smock, but modern smocking can be used for dresses and a variey of uoutfits for younger boys as well.

Sombrero: The sombrero is a wide brimmed Mexican hat with high, conical crown. The brim is usually turned up, unlike tghe American cowboy hat. Normally made of straw or felt.

Sporran: The pouch worn in the front of the kilt, which serves as a pocket. The sporran is worn about a hand's breadth below your belt.

Sport socks: A sock that reaches just above or below the ankles so that the wearer does not appear to be wearing socks. This has normally been a girl's or woman's sock style, but in the late 1990s these short socks began to be called "sport socks" and boys began wearing them.

Sport jackets: Sport jackets as we now know them began to appear after the World War II (1939-45). I am not positive why they are called sport jackets. Certainly they are not worn for sport. Probably the term originated in England where they do strange things (I hope our British friends wont be to offended) like dress up in ties and jackets for sports. British boys at prestigious Public schools (a strange term for exclusive private schools) might wear might wear a brightly colored blazer, for example, for cricket or other sports. Not only did the players dress up, but the spectators who came to see the games ("matches" for our British friends) also dressed up. The term sport jacket as it is now used probably refers to a suit-type jacket for informal special occasions, such as sporting events, but not occasions formal enough to require a suit with matching trousers. The players in cricket, for example, would wear the white trousers worn at a cricket match. The players would usually take off their blazers to actually play in the match.

Stays: Stays were commonly worn by 18th century children, both boys and girls, This began about 18 months of age or about the time that they had begun to walk well without asistance. A child's first stays were "soft" or lightly boned. Young children were never tightly laced. The purpose of stays was to support and round the young child's still soft rib cage before the cartelidge had hardened into bone. A slightly older child at about 24 months might wear stays made of heavy linen, boned with a variety of items to add stiffen the stay. These included pack thread, reeds, wooden splints, or whale bone (baleen). Stays were thought to foster good posture. The lacing would be gently firm and not cinch or pinch. A boy might wear stays to about age 4 ot 7. Girls would wear them for the rest of their lives and as they matured they became increasingly severe. Girls in the 19th century would wear lacing corsets to produce wasp-like waists.

Step dancing: A form of folk dancing popular in Ireland and other countries with Celtic traditions. Irish dance has developed quietly in Ireland for centuries. Irish immigrants brought their traditional dances to America beginning in the 1840s, driven from their homeland by the Great Famine. Their dances had a profound influence on traditional American folk dances like square dancing and their music was a powerful ingredient in country music.Boys doing Irish step dancing have traditionally worn kits, but black trousers have become more common in recent years.

Stocking cap: The stocking cap is a knitted, usually conical, brimless cap. For younger children a colorful pompon may be added.

Sports uniforms: Some of the most popular clothing worn by boys are sports uniforms. Organized sport for boys is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many modern sports have a history dating back to the 18th century or ealier. Organized professional teams attracting spectators and with uniformed players, however, did not appear until the 19th century. This was in part a result of the economic expansion of industrial Europe which generated increasing income and more leisure time. School teams began to be organized by British private schools after the mid-19th century. But organized youth sports for the most part are a 20th century development.

Stetson: Style of American wide-brimmed cowboy hat. Named after the designer John Beorge Stetson who in 1865, with $100, rented a small room, bought the necessary tools, $10 worth of fur, and opened the John B. Stetson Hat Company. The next year, the "Hat of the West" or the now famous "Boss of the Plains" hat was born and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming synnomamous with cowboys and especially cow boy hats.

Stock: A stock was a gentlemen's most formal neckwear. In fashionable dress it was universally of fine white linen pleated to fit beneath the chin. For martial purposes it was often constructed of black leather or woven horsehair. For the clergy the white linen stock had falling bands added. All of these forms were buckled behind the wearer's neck.

Stockings or hose: Stockings of the 18th century were worn by men and women, and were most often knit. The knitting frame (machine) was developed in the late 16th century and many improvements during the 18th century increasingly forced hand knitters from their business. Fashionable stockings of silk or cotton were generally white, and at times were decorated with knit or embroidered patterns at the ankle, referred to as "clocks" or "clocking." More utilitarian stockings of linen, and particularly worsted wool, were seen in colors, with blue and gray predominating. Occasionally, coarse stockings for the low laboring sort and slaves were cut of woolen or linen cloth and sewn to fit the shape of the leg.

Stockings and socks: Hosiery or hose are tailored coverings for the feet or legs worn with shoes or sandals. The extent to which legs were covered and not just feet depended on the fashion trnds of the era, especially the hem length of pants, skirts, and related garments. Modern hose are made of knitted or woven fabric, but this has not always been the case throughout history. Hoisery in American usage is synomous with hose, but in Briatain may refer to any machine-knitted garment. The discussion here refers to the American usage.

Stocking supporters: The boys and girls wearing long stockings in the second half of the 19th Century held them up with various styles of stocking supporters. I believe that boys did not wear these supporters commonly in the first half of the 19th Century because kneepants were not nearly as common. Boys wearing long trousers did not commonly wear stocking supporters. It was not until the 1870s when kneepants became more commonly worn that stocking supporters became widely worn. Both boys and girls wore them. They were several different styles, including over the shoulder and waist styles. They were not very comfortable especially for boys involved in strenous outdoor activities. Notably Lord Baden Powell when he designed the first Boy Scout uniform chose kneesocks so cumbersome stocking supporters would not be necessary.

Suffolk suits: 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 mist of course be English.

Suit: What is today recognized as a man's three-piece suit began to develop in the late 17th century and was well established by the 18th century. In the early 17th century most men wore as the outer layer of garments a tailored doublet and full breeches. In the middle of that century the vest was introduced to European fashion from Asia Minor. Looser forms of doublets left unbuttoned allowed the long vest to be seen beneath. As the 18th century began, the doublet gave way to the new coat and the vest began to evolve into the shorter waistcoat. Breeches, formerly covered by long vests, were then visible and were increasingly cut closer and tighter. Within the first decades of the 18th century a man's suit was recognized as coat, waistcoat, and breeches. At times it was thought fashionable, especially for formal dress, to wear all matching pieces referred to as a "suit in ditto." But often a man would choose a different waistcoat, or waistcoats, to accompany matching coat and breeches. It was most sporting to have none of the three garments alike, but well chosen.

Surcoate: A robe-like outer garment worn by men and women, same as a great coat.

Surcingle: A surcingle was a band of strong fabric wrapped around the baby's body at the belly to support the abdomen and depress the navel. A prominent naval was considered unsightly. These items were widelybused in the 18th century. Surcingle could be done in expensive materials and decorated. They were often covered in expensice facrics like satin.

Suspenders: Both men and boys have worn suspenders, but pants with the suspenders attached were a specailized style for boys.

Figure 2.--These Japanese children are performing in a mass Suzuki concert in the early 1970s.
Suzuki method: A now famed Japnese music teacher, Shinichi Suzuki, reasoned that a child should be able to learn a musical instrument by four years of age or less. He noted how young children can easily master such complicated behaviors as the intricacies of speech or using chopsticks, Children can in fact learn these behaviors much more easily than adultsd. Suzuki concluded that children could also begin to learn musical instruments. The resulting Suzuki Method revolutionized the teaching of music in Japan, America, and other countries. It emphasizing the development of their listening skills at a very young age and teaching them to play entire works by ear before they learn to read music. His methods were inspired by his observation that children learn to speak their native language with great proficiency long before they learn to read. Philosophically, Suzuki saw music education as a vehicle towards personal development and self-fulfillment. He encouraged his students to achieve their own happiness by bringing joy to others through music. The boys in Japan for their recitals usually wore white shirts, ties (sometimes bow ties), blue short pants, white kneesocks, and dark leather shoes.

Swaddling clothes: Swaddling clothes are known from ancient times and is of course mentgioned in the Bible. They are composed of strips of fabric which were wrapped about an infant to hold its arms and legs completely immobile. This was thought to straighten and strengthen the child's bodym but stands uin sharp contrast to modern child rearing practices. Swaddling began to decline in the early 18th cdentury, but continued to be the custom in some countries until after World War I in the1920s.

Sweaters: A sweater is a knitted jacket or jersey worn by adults and children. The term derives from a garment originally worn by adults during erercising to induce sweating and reduce weight or for warmth. Sweaters have commonly been worn by European and American boys for several centuries. They are generally made in pullover or cardigan style, with or without sleves. Sweaters were initialy knitted from wool, but now synthetic fibers are also commonly worn.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 9, 2001
Last updated: September 26, 2001