United States Boys' Suits: Tuxedos

Figure 1.--This cabinet card portrait shows an unidentified boy wearing a black tuxedo jacket with tails with knee pants and long black stockings. He has on patent leather shoes with buttoned straps. They seem unusally pointed. The boy looks to be 8-9 years old. The studio was Almstaedt on Staten Island, New York. The portrait is undated, but the style of the mount suggests that it was taken in the very early-1900s.

The term tuxedo is variously used. It essentially always refers to some kind of formal dinner jacket. It appeared first in Britain (1860s). And because American men's styles at the time were largely set in Britain, the tuxedo soon appeared across the Atlantic in the United States. Perhaps because of the growing prosperity of industrializing America, we tend to see more Americans wearing tuxedos than people in many other countries. The tuxedo was an adult men's style, but by the 1890s we begin to see American boys wearing tuxedos as well. This of course was quite a whiole after the tuxedo first appeared in America. Here the styles varied and boys tuxedos were more variable than men's tuxedos. Tuxedos for boys were an upper-class styles. Middle-class boys as well as working-class boys did not wear them. And they illustratean interesting phenomenon among the upper class. We often see upper-class boys in the late-19th and early-20th century wearing very fancy, juvenile styles like the Fauntleroy suit ot hair styles like ringlet curls. But we also see upper-class boys shifting to adult styles earlier than middle-class boys. This of course varied from family to family.


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Created: 8:17 PM 2/16/2011
Last updated: 8:17 PM 2/16/2011