Boys' Caps: The Tam O'Shanter--Country Trends


Figure 1.--This English lithograph shows a boy wearing a large red tam. We are not sure, however, to what extent boys actually wore such large tams.

HBC at this time has only limited information on the extent to which the tam was worn in various countries. The Tam O'Shanter is commonly associated with Scottish dress. When worn as part of Scottish outfits, the headband might have have tartan designs. Tams seem in any may ways similar to a Balmoral cap. I'm not sure at this time just what the differences are between a Tam O'Shanter and Balmoral. We have noted French boys wearing tams. It was also worn in England and America in the late 19th century, but was not much seen after World War I (1914-18). We have noted drawings of English boys wearing quite large tams, but we are not sure to what extent these oversized tams were actually worn. We are not sure to what extent tams were worn in other countries.

America

The tam has never been extensively worn by American boys. HBC has noted a few old studio portraits from the late 19th century of American boys wearing tams, generally with kilt suits or Fauntleroy suits. Tams were not the principal headwear for either outfit, but they were worn. We note Percy Brown who has just been breeched wearing a tam with his new sailor suit in 1891. Tams were not commonly worn with sailor suits, but this boy just got his sailor suit. The sailor suit was so commonly worn that we see boys wearing a range of caps with it besides just sailor caps.

England

A tam or Tam O'Shanter is a kind of over sized beret. It is associated with Scotland, but was worn by both girls and younger boys in England. Tams were also worn in England in the late 19th century, but was not much seen after World War I (1914-18). We have noted drawings of English boys wearing quite large tams, but we are not sure to what extent these oversized tams were actually worn. The photogrphic record shows that they were worn, but usually with fancy outfits. They seem to have been more popular for girls than boys, in part because while younger bots and girls wore them, only younger girls wore them. We see various styles and sizes. We see an example here. The boy wears a white tam with a feather. They were worn with a wide variety of outfits. The feather gives it something of a Scottish look. The Balmoral bonnet was essentially a tam and often worn with an eagle feather.

France

We have noted French boys wearing tams, but have few details at this time. They look rather like a beret, but we are not pisitive the origin of the tam is French. It may be Scottish, perhaps inspired by French styles. We do not know when they first appeared in France or even what the French term is for tams. They were popular for younger boys at the turn of the 20th century. Some boys wore them with smocks instead of berets. Other boys wore tams with juvenile suits. The French smocks always had a pom on them. They were worn by younger boys, bit we have few details on this. We believe that initially they were a boys' style, but again our information is very limited. They appaer to have been a knitted wool garmet.

Germany

German boys at the turn of the century, like many European boys, at the time also wore tams. We are unsure how common tams were, but we have noted a few images of German boys wearing them. They were worn by primary school age boys. As far as we can tell the tams worn by German boys had poms and streamers as was the case. We are not sure about the colors. I think they were worn by both boys and girls, but cannot yet confirm this. We note being worn in the erly 20th century before World War I (1914-18). We believe they were also worn in the late 19th century.

Ireland


Italy

We have no information on Itlalian tams, but believe thaey were worn there in the early 20th century.

Scotland

The Tam O'Shanter is commonly associated with Scottish dress. When worn as part of Scottish outfits, the headband might have have tartan designs. HBC is not sure, however, to what extent they were actually worn in Scotland. Tams seem in any may ways similar to a Balmoral cap. I'm not sure at this time just what the differences are between a Tam O'Shanter and Balmoral. Tams are still wrn in Scotland, but rarely by boys. The only boys now wearing them are boys dressed in Highland kilts for Higland gaterings or other ethnic event.

Ulster

We have littke information on how common tams were in Ulster or differences between the Protestants and Catholics as to dress in general. We do note one famous boy from a privlidged Ulster-English family wearing smocks and tams, the future Field Marshal Alexander.

Other Countries

We are not sure to what extent tams were worn in other countries.






HBC






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Created: March 14, 1999
Last updated: 10:52 PM 7/18/2007