* boys clothes : French -- suits








French Boys Garments: Suits


Figure 1.--This boy was from Chateauroux. We are not sure how to describe this suit. It has a cut-away jacket which is unusually long, rather like a frock coat. Note how it buttons only near the collar. It was worn with a contrasting-colored vest. We are not sure about the date, but would guess the 1870s. Click on the image for a more detailed discussion of this portrait.

French boys have worn a wide variety of suits over time. The style of a suit is largely, but not completely determined by the jacket style. French boys have worn basically the same suit styles worn by other European boys. We do not notice any destinctive French suit styles. Some of the basic suit sytles were detailed somewhat differently in France than in other countries. French boys mostly wore kneepants suits in the late 19th century. After the turn of the 20th century, shorts pants suits began to appear and after World War I were the primary suit type worn by French boys. Older boys might wear knicker suits. Some boys ha suits with shorts for the summer and knickers for winter wear. After World War II, long pants suits became more common, especially during the 1960s. By the 1980s, virtually all French boys wore long pants suits--except for the very youngest.

Chronology

We are slowly building a chronologu of French boys' suits. We know little about the 18th centurry, but as best we can understand, boys in the 18th century basically wore small editions of their fathers' clothes. Working -class children and peasant boys might wear their fathers' old clothes cut down to fit. Only in the late-18th century do we begin to see the first examples clothing especially designed for children--the boy's skeleton suit. At firstt they were done with knee breeches, but long trousers soon became standard and universal by the turn-of-the 19th century. Other than the skeleton suit we have little information on the early-19th century. We note boys wearing tunics and peaked caps with tassles. Unfortunately we have been able to find little information about suits. Even though commercial photography was developed in France with the Daguerreotype (1839) we have foind very few early French photographs. Only with the appearance of the CDV in large numbers (1860s) do we have a photograohic record to build a detailed chronology. We see many of the same styles in France that we see in the rest of Europe and Notth America. France was very imortant in setting women's fashions. While it was less important in male fashion trends, France's influence should not be discounted. Many boys wore collar-buttoning jackets at mid-century, mostly very plain suits. Vests were very common. We nore cut-away jackets for younger boys in the 1860s. These were mostly short jackets, but we also notice longer cuts like the boy here is wearing in the 1870s. Collar buttoning jackets seemed to have declined in the 70s and in addition to the cut-away jackets, we see more boys wearing lapel sack suits. Some were fancy suits. The inspiration for the Amnerican Fauntleroy suit was the fancy suits Mrs. Burnett saw French boys wearing while she was living in Paris. . And increasingly boys were wearing shortened-length pant with suits, mostlyh woirn with long stockings. We begin to see the shorened-length pants worn with socks (1880s). Suits were not as common in France as many other countries, we think the fact that children wore soocks to school was a factor. After World War I we see both single- and double-breasted jackets. Short pants were very common, but we see some teenagers wearing knickers before switching to long trousrs. French boys tended to wear shorter-cut shorts with suits than British boys. This began to change in the 1960s when we see shorter shorts in Britain as wll. Then by the late-1970s we begin to see longer sometimes cuffed shorts in France. After World War II, short pants suit continued to be common, although we see fewer boys wearing suits. By the 1960s we increasingly see the boys who wore suits wearing long pants suits.

Younger Boy Suits

We see a variery of suits for younger French boys. Here we are mostly talking about pre-school boys and boys in the first few years of primary school. One of the younger boys dress up styles was the blouse suit. A suit is generally seen as a jacket and matching pants. Three piece suits may include a vest. The actual definition is a matching top and bottom. Thus the top is not always a jacket. We see French boys wearing tops that look more like blouses. Another style was the Fauntleroy suit and oyther fancy outfits like Zouave suits. We might include the sailor suit here, but this was more of a style for school age children. Tunic suits werte also popular, but this was also a skirted garments. We do not yet have a good assessment of these younger boys' outfits. While we have a substantial French photographic archive, it is mostly 20th century images. The number of 19th century images is still rther limited.

Jacket Styles

French boys have worn a wide range of suit types. And thanks to photography we have an ectensive record of those styles, at least those beginning in the mid-19th century after photography was developed. The style of a suit is largely, but not completely determined by the jacket/coat style. French boys have worn basically the same suit styles worn by other European boys. Although we note sime very fancy styles in the mid-19th century, prescurors to the Fauntleroy suits of the late-19th century. There have been suit styles for differet age groups. Popular styles have varied over time. No country has more of a tradition for fashion than France, although this seems especially true for ladies fashion. We do not notice any destinctive French suit styles, although some may have originated in France. We know that some originated in England. The Frnch for example took to the sailor suit originated in England. Some of the basic suit sytles were detailed somewhat differently in France than in other countries. Eton suits also proved popular in France. Others like lapel sack suits, both single- and double-breasted suits were just the same as in other countries.

Vests

We do not yet have much infirmation in French vests. They seem to haved been faiurly common in the 19th century. The boy here is a good example (figure 1). They were less common in the 20th centyry, but our informnation is still limited.

Pants Types

Suit types are generally named by the style of jacket. There were, however, srveral different types pf pants and trousers as well. French boys have worn a variety of pants with various suit types over time. The pants types were affected by chronological and other factors and generally followed overall fashion tends in the types of pants and trousers worn by boys. We see French boys wearing the same styles of suits worn with knee breeches that their fathers wore (18th century). French boys like boys in other European countries mostly wore long pants (early- and mid-19th centurty). Skeleton suits popular in the early-19th century were mostly worn with long pants. This began to change at mid-century. France to a degree was a fashion trend setter, although not to the same degree that they set women's fashions. We begin to see younger boys wearing suits with shortened-length pants (mid-19th century. This include both straight leg knee pants and bloomer knickers. They were generally done below knee level when they first appeared. French boys commonly wore knee pants suits in the late-19th century, but we see bloomer knickers as well. At the turn of the 20th century, we still seen knee pants suits and bloomer knickers. Most boys wore them with socks rather than long stockings as in America and Germany. Shorts pants suits began to appear and after World War I (1914-18) were the primary suit type worn by French boys. Some older boys, mostly teenagers, might wear knicker suits. To a degree this was seasonal. Some boys had suits with shorts for the summer and knickers for winter wear. After World War II (1939-45), French boys still wore short pants suits and some teenagers knickers suits. This began to change (1950s). Short pants suits were still quite common, but knickers gradually went out of style and more boys began wearing long pants. long pants suits became more common, especially during the 1960s. By the 1980s, virtually all French boys wore long pants suits--except for the very youngest. At the same style with more informal life styles, fewer boys were wearing suits, even to occassions once seen as formally









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Created: March 31, 2001
Last updated: 10:49 AM 3/13/2018