** United States boys clothes: decorative items









Figure 1.--This Dayton, Ohio boy wears a big colored floppy bow in the 1890s. The floppy bow was the most destinctive of the various neckwear items worn by boys.

United States Boys' Decorative Items

Decorative clothing is often not associated with boyswear. There are, however, several decorative items that boys have worn when dressing up and have at times been important boyswear items. The most important is various types of neckwear. Neckwear was once avery important clothing item for boys, especially when more formal dress was expected. And we have noted several important neckwear types over time. Neckties and bowties were particularly important in the 20th century. Stocks and floppy bows and other neckwear were popular in the 19th century. Bows are generally seen as neckwear. This does seem to be the most common use of bows, especially in conection with boys wear. And neckwear is clearlt the most obvius and visible use of bows. Neckwear was, however, not the only use of bows for boys. Actually bows can and were worn for many other decorative purposes, although they were not as visible as neckwear. Mothers here were very ingenious as regards the use of bows for both boys and girls. Bows were very popular in the 19th century for several different purposes. We are not entirely sure why they were so popular in the 19th century. We note hair bows, dress bows, shoulder bows, and shoe bows. They were not nearky as common or as prominant as the use of collar bows. Less prominant were shoe bows. Hair bows were certainly visible, but they wre not nearly as common as collar bows. A less common decorative item was sashes. We see sashes much less commonly than bows. The sash was initially a military style. We see officers wearing sashes with dress military uniforms. Military styles have strongly influenced men and boys wear. Sashes were such a formal style that they were not commonly used in boys clothing. We ee a few boys wearing uniforms with sashes, but surpringly for a military-inspired style, the one outfit where the sash was employed was the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit.

Neckwear

Neckwear in the 19th century was an important fashion item. This was especially true in the second half of the centyry. Our infirmation in the early-19th century is limited. Men and boys in the mid-19th century wore black stocks like their fathers. There was no destinctive stles for boys. We do not note American boys wearing destinctive neckwear until after the Civil War. We note boys wearing floppy bows in the 1870s, but they were relatively small. This changed in the 1880s when we begin to see boys wearing increasingly large floppy bows. These were destinctive bneckwear for boys. Their fathers did not wear these lrge bows. Some younger boys seem almost enveloped by their giant floppy bows and large collars. The bows were made in a range of colors and patterns. The large collars of the day were worn both with and without these bows. Boys in the 1890s often wore large ruffled and somewhat older boys Eton collars. These also could be worn both with and without neckwear. Some boys wore floppy bows with these collars, but others wore them without bows. Neckties appeared, but were worn by older boys. Floppy bows were still worn in the 1900s, but less commonly and in smaller sizes. Neckwear after World War I by the 1920s began to become increasinglu standardized with neckties and bowties. Neckties were standard wear for men. We also see some less common types like string ties, but this seemed to have regional appeal. Gradually as casual styles became ibcreasingly popular we see fewer and fewer boys wearing neckwear. The same was true of suits nd other dressy clothes.


Figure 2.--Here we see two unidentified boys and their father, probably in the 1890s. One boys wears a Fauntleroy blous and bow. The other boy wears a Fauntleroy suit and floppy bow. Usually boys from the same family worn theie floppy bows (tied by mother) similarly. Thecstudio was Andrews in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Bows

Bows in America and other countries are generally seen as neckwear. This does seem to be the most common use of bows, especially in conection with boys wear. And neckwear is clearlt the most obvius and vusible use of bows. Neckwear was, however, not the only use of bows for boys. Actually bows can and were worn for many other decorative purposes, although they were not as visible as neckwear. Mothers here were very ingenious as regards the use of bows for both boys and girls. Bows were very popular in the 19th century for several different purposes. We are not entirely sure why they were so popular in the 19th century. We note hair bows, dress bows, shoulder bows, and shoe bows. They were not nearky as common or as prominant as the use of collar bows. Less prominant were shoe bows. Hair bows were certainly visible, but they wre not nearly as common as collar bows. The principal appearance of all these bow types seems roughly the same period of time, the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. Bows can be observed outside this tome period, but not nearly as common. There were both gender and age conventions, but boys did wear the various types of decorative bows. We note the bows becoming more modest after the turn-of-the 20th century. A good example is Roy Swanson.


Figure 3.--This Philadelphia boy wears a large white sash with his Fauntleroy suit. The portrait is not dates, but it looks like the late-1890s.

Sashes

A less common decorative item was sashes. We see sashes much less commonly than bows. The sash was initially a military style. We see officers wearing sashes with dress military uniforms. Military styles have strongly influenced men and boys wear. Sashes were such a formal style that they were not commonly used in boys clothing. We ee a few boys wearing uniforms with sashes, but surpringly for a military-inspired style, the one outfit where the sash was employed was the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. Not all boys wore sashes with their Funtleroy suits. We do see sashes with a number of the more formal Fauntleroy suits. Red sashes were particularly popilar with black Fauntleroy suits, but we see other colrs as well.

Buttons

Buttons of course are a utiliatrain connecting item. They have also been used as dcofativ itemx, espcilly in the 19th century. And we see gthisx continuiong into the early 20th century for younger boy' clothing. Larger buttons were fior button-on cloyhing for younger boys. The larger buttoins made it eier as children wre learning to dress, but had a dortive feature as well.

Epaulettes

We notice epaulettes on coats nd shirts. This was a milatary styole. This was noy very common, bnut existed, nore for men thn boys.





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Created: 9:00 PM 10/6/2008
Last updated: 11:54 AM 12/28/2021