*** biographical details on boys clothing: Russell Emerson Cain

Biographical Details on Boys' Clothing Styles: Russell Emerson Cain (United States, 1892- )

Russell Emerson Cain
Figure 1.--This wonderfull portrait of an American boy was taken during 1897 in Summit, NJ. His name was Russell Emerson Cain. He was born in 1892 and was 5 years old. The image was provided by his granddaughter Barbara Couchon. He wears a Fauntleroy blouse with a checkered bow. His kilt skirt was probably part of a kilt suit.

A portrait Russell Emerson Cain show him at the age of 5 in 1897 wearing a fancy Fauntleroy blouse with a kilt skirt kilt. He also had long uncurled hair. He did not come from a wealthy family. He later described his protrait, as "... when I was a little girl growing up ..." We are not sure when he was breeched, but another photograph at age 9 shows him playing baseball with his friends.

The Boy

The boy pictured here was Russell Emerson Cain. He was born in 1892 and grew up in New Jersey.


T his charming portrait was submitted to HBC by Russell's grand daughter, Barbara Couchon.


HBC wondered if Russell's mother was especially fashion conscious. Unfortunately, Barbara tells us, "I don't know anything about his mother. I know she died before 1902 so he was pretty young when she died. I only have one photo of her which I believe was from about 1867 (!) when she was only about 16."

Portrait at Age 5

Russell's portrait was taken during 1897 in Summit, New Jersey. He was 5 years old in the photo.

Russel's Thoughts

Although Russell never spoke to Barbara, he had always told his daughter (Barbara's mother) that the portrait was "when I was a little girl growing up..." He must have either remembered being dressed that way or was used to seeing the old photos. Barbara tells us, "In his adulthood at least, I guess he realized how much like a girl he looked.

Fauntleroy blouse and kilt skirt

The same style of Fauntleroy blouse could be worn by boys wearing either kilt/skirts or kneepants. Boys commonly wore Fauntleroy blouses with their kilt suits. The kilt suit had a jacket, and often a vest, to go with the kilt skirt. Boys might wear the blouse with just the kilt skirt. We are not positive about the conventions here, but believe this was especially common during the summer. The blouse worn with the kilt suit, however, was precisely the same as theworn worn with a Fauntleroy suit. Thus when a boy was breeched he could continue wearing the same blouse. We know that these Fauntleroy blouses with kilt suits were commonly worn by American boys. We are less sure to what extent they were worn by boys in other countries. Boys appear to have worn Fauntleroy blouses with kilt skirts through about age 5-6 years of age. This was esentially the same age at which the full kilt suits were worn. Again we have few setails on the conventions involved.

Long uncurled hair

Long hair was revived in the 19th century by Bennet's book, Little Lord Fauntleroy. As a result, Little Lord Fauntleroy suits inboth skirt and knee pant styles were fashionable for a boy's part dress for a generation. These outfits were actually not an inovation, the fashion illustrated in Mrs. Bennet's book were in fact, fashions that had been worn by European boys for some time. The book, however, greatly popularized the style in America and also Europe. Although notdealt with to any extent in the book, Reginald Birch's illustrations in Little Lord Fauntleroy prominately featured the hero, Cedric Erol, with long shoulder-length hair. This created a sensation along with the famed velvet suits. Many but not all mothers delayed cutting their boys' hair to complete the Fauntleroy effect. Long hair for small boys was not unknown in the early and mid-19th century. Birch's illustrations, however, greatly increased the popularity of long hair for boys, at least among mothers, and increased the ages at which such long hair styles were worn.

Age 6 or 7

Barbara tells us, "I do have another very poor quality tin type photo that is perhaps a year or so after the other. In that picture, he still has the long hair but has what appears to be shorts or pants, with a long sleeve buttonend top, but with a large "bow" at the neckline.

Age 9

By age 9 for sure, he was no longer dressed that way. I have a photo that shows his with some other boys with baseball bats and gloves ... a very all American looking photo.

The Family

Barbara does not have any detailed information about the family circumstances. She believes that they were probably middle class. She doubts if they were poor. This is important as some HBC readers have commented that we should not deal just with rich kids. Many modern readers think that a boy dressed in fancy outfits must have come from a wealthy family. In fact this was how boys from middle class families dressed and in some cases boys from families with very modest circumstances.


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Created: July 19, 2001
Last updated: July 19, 2001