English Boys Suits: Types--Blazers

Figure 1.--This photograph came out of a Edwardian album dated 1908/9 and had the inscriptiom 'Littlehampton'. It looks to us like the work of a street photographer. Littlehapton is a beach resort along the Channel coast. So we think the boy is wearing his school uniform on a famoly outing. It looks to be a chilly day. Notice the segmented peaked cap, Eton collar, blazer with piping and knickers pants. A British reader tells us, "It would be a very cool day for a beach visit. Having said that when I was a boy there was one summer holiday which was very cool. I played happily on the beach building samd csstles while my parents felt the cold and wrspped up in warmer clothes." It is possible that the parebts were visiting the boy in his boarding school, but we think a family beach outing is most likely.

The blazer was an English creation. Although it was a coat without matching trousers, we include it here because the most important part of a suit is the jacket and the conventions for wearing it are similar to that of a suit. The blazer was developed as smart summer wear for affluent Britons as was soon adopted by the country's elite Public Schools. Most of the blazers we see English boys wearing are school blazers. They were not only for school, but also rather than suits when away from school for family outings are occasions like church. Even today the blazer is primarily associated with school uniforms. The developing preparatory schools also adopted the blazer. They were viewed as somewhat informal wear. More formal atire would be an Eton suit and hard collar. Blazers were worn with soft collars and the school tie. School blazers added great variety to the sometimes dowdy school uniform. State secondary schools like the private schools had highly varied and colorful blazers through the 1950s. Most have, however, for reasons of economy shifted to a plain blaack blazer with the school crest. Private schools, both primary and secondary, continue to have uniforms with coloful blazers--although less varied than in the 1950s and 60s. The school crest is worn on the left chest pocket. Often it is the initials of the school, but some schools have logos or elaborate crests. Assesing English schools can be quite complicated because of the many different types of schools. Most schools, except for primary schools, adopted blazers as part of the school uniform. There were even some primary schools, especially Anglican primary schools that had blazers. There were, however, many variations among schools and over time concerning blazers. The blazer is worn somewhat differently in England than America. A blue blazer was a standard item for American boys, but less so for English boys because it was seen primarily as a school garment.


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Created: 12:17 PM 10/10/2016
Last updated: 12:17 PM 10/10/2016