*** English boy clothes -- decorative items

English Boys' Garments: Decorative Items

English boys clothing
Figure 1.--This CDV portrait shows an unidentified English boy. Notice the stock he is wearing rather than a necktie. The collar looks like a detachable Eton collar. The portrait was taken by A.W. Cox in Nottingham. It is undated, but was probably taken in the 1860s or early-70s. We are not sure if this would have been his school uniform. He wears a single-breasted three-piece suit. Notice the large lapels.

Clothing has a variety of practical, utilitarian purposes. There are also a range of secorative elements to clothing. It is likely that decoration developed as soon as homonids developed the technology to make clothing. With modern boys, decoration is not as important as for girls. But there are a variuety of decorarive times. While most garments are decorative to some extent, they also have largely practical, utilitarisn purposes. Some garments are, however, largely decorative with little or no practical purpose. A purely decorative items worn by boys is neckwear. And neckwear such as ties is particularly associated wuth England. Bows were commonly worn as neckwear, perhaps not as commonly as in America, but still were common. There were other decorative usages for bows. And there are many other types of neckwear and types of decorative items. These items are of varying importance. They include: belt buckles, crests, feathers, garter flashes, lanyards and whistles, logos, tassels, poms, and other items. Given the importance of English fashions, the styles and conventions for these items in Britain were conducted in many other countries.

Belt Buckles


The primaryb use of bows as a decorative item was neckwear. We especially see them being used in the late-19th century as part of Fauntleroy styling. Otyher uses were hair bows and shoe bows. Hair bows were mostly for girls. They were especially popular in the 1920s. We we see mothers adding boiws to younger boys in the 19th century.



Feathers were an imprtant fashion assessory, bosly for women. Nit so much for boys, but we do see them with some Scottish styles, especilly balmorals.

Garter Flashes

Lanyards and Whistles

Lanyards and whistles were mostly associated with sailor suits. Lanyards were very common, but the theoretically attached wistles less so as the boys blowing thenm could be annoying.



Neckwear varied widely in the 19th centutry, both in type and size. Cravats were connon through mid-century. The cravat vwe see here us a good example (figure 1). We see boys wearing bows, sometines quite large (late-1890s)--although not as large as in America. Generally smaller bows were worn with sailor suits. A good example is fashionable London boy, Osborn Ricards, in 1876. One English fashion source tells us that "A gentleman always wear a tie." This is not the case in the 21st century, but was standard in the 19th and 20th century. The British (English) were regarded as improperly dressed without a tie until quite recently. A reader tells us, "At my golf club (Royal Cinque Ports) a tie was required in both the mixed lounge as well as the Gentlemen's lounge. After much debate the rule was relaxed a few years ago and 'smart casual' dress was permittd in the mixed lounge. To this day a jacket and tie are required in the Gentlemen's lounge. It was at this club in pre WW II years, Byron Nelson was refused admission for lunch as he was a professional golfer (Working Class - don't you know). He arrived in a Rolls Royce and was served lunch in the car park by his servant on a camp table with linen table cloth and full silver service, and champagne! Many Golf Clubs still have a similar rules, but they are gradually being toned down. Many British schools required boys to wear ties. They were often brightly colored stripes matching blazers and caps.



We do not have much information on the sashes worn by English children. Of course this mean mostly sashes wotn by girls in dresses. The sashes would have been in additioin to the waist band most dresses had and tied in a bow at the back, rather like the "Song of Misic lline, girls in white sresses with blue satin sashes. They would have been a dressy additioin for special evnts like parties. As best we can tell, they were more common in Engkand than America based on the photographic record. Of course we do not only see blue sashes on white dresses, we see sashes on dark dresses as well. Unfortunately, we can not make out the colors with the black and white photography of the day. So e are not sure about the popular colors. We do note plaid sashes as well as solid colored sashes. We do not think red sashes were very common for girls. While sashes were primarily eorn by girls, some boys also had sashes. We bekikeve that some boys wore sashes with skeleton suits, but cannot conform it, largely because of the lack of photography during the eraly 19th century when skeleton suits were prevalent. We do see English boys wearing sashes with Fauntleroy suits, often red sashes. Fauntleroy suits were more common in America, but wearing sashed with them was nore common in England.



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Created: 1:25 AM 9/24/2010
Last updated: 6:19 PM 11/17/2023