United States Boys' Clothes: Neckwear Conventions

American boy 20th century neckwear
Figure 1.--The basic convention for boys' neckwear at the turn-of-the 20thth century was for youngerboys to wear the largest neckwear-floppy bows. The mother her presumably selected the neckwear for the two youngest boys. She chose the large floppy bow for the middle son. We are not sure why she would have done that. The family is unidentified. The portrait was probanly taken around 1905-10.

Conventions have varied for neckwear over time. We do not yet have detailed information for the 18th century. Boys in the mid-19th century tended to wear the samne neckwear styles as their fathers, if somewhat less commonly. Younger boys on the late 19th century tend to wear large floppy bows. It was during this period that the convention for boys and men was most differentiated. The basic convention was for boys, especially younger boys to wear really large floppy bows. Thus you can see in many family portraits, the younger boys wearing the largest bows and collars. Not all mothers followed this convention, but it certainly was very common. We know that mothers must have made the decision about bows because boys would need help tieing them. Floppy bows were still worn in the 1900s. The convention of diffent neckwear began to decline after the turn-of-the 20th century. After World war I we see boys generally wearing the same neckwear styles as men, mostly wearing biwties and neckties. We see many younger boys wearing bowties in the mid-20th century, but bowties were fairly rare for men. Nrckwear declined in popularity for boys in in the 1970s.


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Created: 11:24 PM 12/19/2007
Last updated: 11:24 PM 12/19/2007