** Eton collar neckwear

Eton Collar Neckwear

Figure 1.--This American boy was photographed in Aubuyn, New York, probably in the 1890s. He wears a bow with his Norfolk suit and Eton collar. I think this was mostly for the younger boys wearing Eton suits. The bow was less common in England. Note that the boys bow is very neatly tied in the form of a bow tie wityout tails.

HBC knows of no accepted convention for the neckwear associated with an Eton collar. Younger boys might wear floppy bows. Some older boys might wear bow ties with their Eton collars, but often no tie was worn at all. Rge Eton collar was widely used at English schools, each of which had their own special conventions. Boys wearing Eton collars with kilt suits were most likely to wear a bowtie or floppy bows with the Eton collar. Some boys in suits also wore bows, but I think this was younger American boys and was much less common in England. Eton collars were less common in France, but the images I have seen usually show some kind of neckwear with them. The vertical neck tie was not usually worn with Eton collars in England and America, but French boys did wear them. I'm not unsure why this was, but not all fashion conventions are clarly understood.


The fashion concerning neckwear worn with the Eton collar was quite variable. We have noted boys wearing Wton collars both with and without neckwear. We have also noted boys wearing Etin cillars with different types of neckwear, including floppy bows, bowties, and neckties. Trends varied from country to country. The fashion for younger boys to wear Eton collars with floppy bows was largely an American style during the 1880s and 90s. A further complication is that some boys wore neckwear over their Eton cillars and others under it. The conventions varied over time. We have not yet able to assess the chronological trends, which are complicated by country differences. HBC doest not yet have sufficent information to assess the timeline of all these different fashion conventions. Time trends in part reflect the changing trends in the popularity of different neckwear styles.

Age Trends

Yonger boys were the most likely to wear their Eton collars with floppy bows. This was especially true of the very young boys still wearing kilt suits or other juvenile outfits. Even older boys might wear a floppy bow with their first nature suit like a Norfolk suit. There does not appaear to have been a lot of strict conventions in this regard. It was largely left to the discressiin of the mother. Floppy bows were popular with mothers who like to make small distinctions in clothing as their sons grew up. Thus a boy might wear a new suit and Eton collar for a year or two with a large floppy bow, perhaps the same bow he wore with his Fauntleroy suit. When he was a liitle older might be allowed to wear his new Norfolk suit and Eton collar with a smaller bow or even without one. This appealed to a thrify mother who could change boy's look with no additional cost. HBC has not yet determined if any age conventions were involved in the other neckwear fashions such as no tie or the diiferent kind of ties.

Garment Conventions

Eton collars were worn with several different garments. Except for the kilt suit, HBC has not yet determined any neckwear conventions for these different garments.

Highland kilt

Eton collars were one of the collar types worn with Highland kilts. This was most common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Figure 2.--This boy in a photograph probably taken in the 1890s wears a bow with his Eton collar and kilt suit. Note the number of buttons on his jacket and the lack of any belt.

Kilt suit

Kilt suits were worn with a variety of collars. The Eton collar, at least in America, was not tyhe most common collar style. Some were, however, worn with the Eton collar and some, but not all were worn with floppy bows. This was one of the most commn garments in which Eton collars and floppy bows might be paired.

Norfolk suit

The Norfolk suit and Eton colar was worn with virtually every conceivable neckwear style. Younger boys might wear floppy bows for a year or two. After that the choices became mre diverse. One convention was that whilecboys in knicker or kneepants suits might wear floppty bows, boys in longpants almost never did.

Eton suit

Proper Eton suits and collars were not worn with floppy bows, at least in America and England. French boys might wear a floppy bow. Diddrent other types of neckwear were worn.

School uniform

Each individual school set their own conventions concerning neckwear to be worn with the Eton collar. Each boy would then conform. These conventions vaired from school to school and HBC has not yet detected any consistent trend.


Types of Neckwear

Quite a variety of neckwear was worn with the Eton collar. We notice boys wearing virtually every type of neckwear worn at the time. Many boys did not wear neckwear with Eton collars, but we note other boys wearing floppy bows, bowsties, neckties, and other types of neckwear. The type of neckwear varied from country to country and over time. Some boys wore no tie or bow at all. HBC believes this was particularly common in England. The floppy bow was particularly popular in America and to a lesser extent in France. While the Eton collar was most popular in England, we note relatively few boys there wearing their Eton collars with large floppy bows. The bows could be quite large, but not nearly as large as the huge bows that American boys might wear with a Fauntleroy suit and lace collar. The floppy bows worn with Eton collars were often tied or knotted differently than those worn with Fautleroy suits. We notice this style appearing in America around the turn of the 20th century. Floppy bows had at that time been worn for more than two decades, but had not generally been paired with Eton collars. This fashion of wearing floppy bows appears to have been popular for only about a decade, because by the 1910s floppy bows began declining in popularity in America--especially the larger ones. It was mostly younger boys who wore floppy bows with Eton collars, but we have noted boys as old as 12-13 years so atired. Small bowties were also worn. The modern necktie is also seen with the Eton collar. The length and with as well as the knot varied widely. Some boys worn novel neckwear not falling into the major categories.


Most boys wore their floppy bows over their Eton collars so in some interests it was difficult to see te Eton collar even though they were quiyr large. Other boys, but a smaller number, appear to have worn their neckwear under their Eton collars. Given the size of floppy bows this was somewhat difficult, perhaps wexplaining why this was the less common convention. Another important factor was that the many mothers particularly liked the floppy bows and did not want the boys' collar to hide them. Ties on the otherhand were normally worn under the collar as the vertical shape was made to fit between the collar wings. Bowties perhaps because of their small size were normally worn over the Eton collar.

Figure 3.--This American boy, another New York boy, in a photograph probably taken in the 1890s wears a small, rather formally tied bow with his Eton collar.


Some boys may have continued to wear the same floppy bows that they wore with their Fauntleroy lace collars when they graduated to Eton collars. This was primarily those boys with relatively small floppy bows. The size of bows worn weith Eton collars is notably smaller than those worn with Fauntleroy lace and ruffled collars.


Insufficent information is currently available to assess the patterns of bows and ties wprn with Eton collars. It is not known if the patterns differed from those worn with Fauntleroy lace and ruffled collaras and other more juvenile garments. Unlike informatiion on colors, as assessment of patterns will be easy to work out once HBC has acquired sufficient images.


Insufficent information is currently available to assess the color of bows and ties wprn with Eton collars. It is not known if the colors differed from those worn with Fauntleroy lace and ruffled collaras and other more juvenile garments.

Country Fashions

Eton collars were most prevalent in England, but worn in France and America as well as many other countries. Neckwear convention with the Eton collar varied in these different countries. Eton collars appear to have been commonly worn in Austraia at the turn of the 20th century. HBC does not have suffient images from England to yet assess national conventions. Some preliminary observations are that floppy bows were not commonly worn with Eton collars. In addition, wearing the Eton collar without any neckwear was more common. Eton collars were not as common in France as in England. Many boys wore floppy bows with their first Eton collar. This appears to have been an especially American style. Floppy nows were worn with both kilt suits and proper suits like Norfolk suitys, at least by younger boys. Unfortunately, the floppy bows are often so large that it is not always possible to properly identify the Eton collar. We note that the Eton collar was more commonly paired with floppy bows around the turn of the century, earlier other collar styles were usually used with floppy bows. By the 1910s, however, ;arge floppy bows had become less common, even for younger boys.


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Created: March 20, 1998
Last updated: 6:01 AM 9/23/2004