French Boys Suits: Jacket Styles

Figure 1.--Here we see two French boys, perhaps brothers, wearing double-breasted jacket suits in 1962. An archivist has written what looks like Charles DeGualle on the back, we are not sure why. A French reader tells us that they are the President's grandchildren.

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. Ron 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.

Cut-away Jackets

Cut-away jackets were a popular style for younger boys after the mid-19th century. They were worn throughout Western Europe and North America. We are not sure where the stgyle originated, France was one of the many countries where they were worn. We are not sure to what extent they were worn in the 1850s. We do not yet have French Daguerreotypes even though they were invented in France. They were made in much smaller numbers than in America. We do see cut-away jackets in the 1860s. Some were heavily decorated with embroidery and edging. Buttons were also used as part of the decoration. The pattern of the garments varied. They were usually short cut jackets, but we see some longer ones. There wee several styles. The classic Fauntleroy suit was done with cut-away jckets. The angle the jackets were cut away also varied. And we note both sharp and rounded corners at the waistline. The jackets were made wihout collars. They either buttoned at the neck or had a tab attachnmnts. They were worn both with and without vests. Early cut-away jackets commonly had the vests. We see boys up to about 10-years of age wareing these jackets. They seem most common in the 1860s and 70s, but we see them into the 1890s. As far as we can tell they were almost always soen with matching rather than contrastiung trousrs. They were worn with various trousers, invcluding long pants, bloomer knickers, and knee pants. Long pants seem common in the 1860s, but shorter-cut pants gradually became increasingly common, reflecting tghe general trend in trouser styles.

Collar-buttoning Jackets

We notice collar buttoning suits in the 19th century. They tended to be plain jackets with relatively limited detailing. This was a very common style for boys, one of the most common. We think social-class factors were involved. These jackets seem especually common with working-class as well as other moderate income boys. We are still working on the chronology. We are not sure about the early-19th century. but we see examples in the mid- and late-19th century. A good example is velvet suits worn by the Parisian Caplain brothers in the 1860s. Collar buttoning suits continued to be common in the 1880s. we note a portrait of two unidentified Tours boys in 1886. The younger boy wears a collar buttoning suit. His older brother looks to be wearing collar-buttoning jacket as well, but he actually wears a jacket with lapels that are so small it looks like a collar buttoning jacket. We continue to se these suits into the early-20th century. They were commonly done with knee pants. Here the length varied over time.

Eton Suit

Fauntleroy Suit

Fauntleroy suits were popular in France, although I have not commonly seen the term used to discuss fancy suits made out of velvet and other luxurious materials. Fancy French suits for boys were in fact the inspiration for the famous garment for the litterary hero, Little Lord Fauntleroy. The authoress, Frances Hodgson Burnett, lived in France for a short period with her two young sons before writing the book. The large bows that American boys wore with their suits, however, were not nearly as popular in France. Also it was much less common for French boys to wear their long hair in ringlet curls.

Frock Suit

Lapel Sack Suits

Single-breasted jackets

Double-breasted jackets

Double-breasted jackers were one of th popular styles of sack suits. We see a range of styling. Some of the jackets seem to be done with ornamental rather than functional buttons. We note a range of detailing such as piping. The suits were dome with different type of pants. We are not sure when double-brested suits first appeared in France. Popularity varied over time. We have found examples from the 1870s, but they may have appeared earlier. This was a style for school-age boys and adults. It continued to be a popular style into the 20th century.

Norfolk Suit

Sailor Suits

France is ione of several countries where sailor suits were quickly adapted for boys wear after first appearing in England. Some clothing styles have national associations. The sailor suit soon became an international style, but was probably worn more in France and Germany than any other country. As in most countries, the classic English sailor suit was influenced by the uniforms of the national navy. Also in France, designers experimented more with stling inovations than in other countries. Innmost cases,m hoever, it was the classic styling that persisted over time


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Created: 11:39 AM 10/28/2016
Last updated: 11:40 AM 10/28/2016