Lace Collars: National Trends

Figure 1.--These two German boys, probably brothers, wear identical lace collars. The photograph was probably taken in the 1880s. This is some of the larger lace collars HBC has noted. Note the short hair the boys are wearing with their lace collars.

Lace collars were worn in the 17th century and were an important part of the outfits worn by the aristocrcy as part of the cavelier look. This was a pan-European style worn in England, France, and other countries. The kace collar appeared agin in the late 19th centurym in sharp contrast to the realtively small collars worn at mis-century. They were widely worn by boys still in dresses and wearing Little Lord Fauntleroy suitsm as well as other garments. We believe that the popularity of the style varied from country as did the style of the collar and the garments upon which lace collars were worn, although we are just beginning to access this. Lace collars seem to have been very popular in America, especially after the publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy in 1885. Lace collars wwere also widely worn by European boys. We have not yet been able to detect important national differences, in part because most of our available images are American. We are, however, beginning to acquire some European images and hope tpo assess differences in style, lace type, neckwear worn, and other aspects of lace collars. Other variations such as Fauntleroy blouses with attached collars and sleeve cuff reim and detachablde collars are other topics of interest.


Younger American boys in the late-19th century might wear lace collars. It is a collar style common associated with the Little Lord Fauntleroy suits which became popular in the 1880s. They were worn before that, but as far as we can tell, they were not very common. It was in the 1880s with the popularity of Mrs. Burnett's book, Little Lord Fauntleroy, that they became really popular--at least with mothers. No where was the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit and accompanying lace collar more popular than in America. In many ways the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit was one of the first detincrive American styles, although fancy velvet suits for boys were first worn in Europe. The American Fauntleroy suit was generally worn with a lace or ruffled collar. Boys still in dresses also sometime wore lace collars. HBC is unsure if the popularity of the Fauntleroy suit in America meant that the lace collar was more commonly worn by American boys than European boys. We have not yet developed a major section specificically for American lace collars, but most of the images in the general lace collar section are American images. We think this in part reflects the greater size of HBC's Anerican archive, but it doies seem to suggest that lace collars may hve been more popular in American than Europe. Lace was an expensive item, often imported frm Europe. We tend to see an increasing number of ruffled collars during the 1890s instead of lace. Many ruffled collars, however, were trimed with lace.


As Belgium was an important center of the lace manufacturing, one can assume that it may have been especially popular for boys's collars. HBC unfortunately has little information on boys' collars so can not confirm how widely thet were worn in Belgium. We assume that lace collar fashionsre probably sumilar to those prevalent in France, but our information is very limited at this time.


We note Canadian boys wearing lace collars in the late-19th nd very early-20th century. Trends as far as we can tell are similar to Anerican and English trends. A good example is Francis Allan about 1900.


HBC is unsure has to how widely worn lace collars were in England. Fancy velvet suits were worn by boys in the 1870s, perhaps earlier. It is known that the Fauntleroy craze swept England in the 1880s and 1890, making the fashion more popular than ever for boys. Faintleroy suits and styling was not as common as in America, but more popular than anyone else in Europe. HBC is unsure, however, as to how many of the boys dressed in Fauntleroy suits actually had lace collars. There were some diifferences in style among American and English Fauntleroy suits. English boys wore Fauntleroy blouses with attached collars as well as detachable lace collars. We do not yet know if there were significan differences between the lace collars worn in American and England. We have just begun to acquire a few English images. The collars seem rather similar to American lace collars, but we have just begun to assess English lace collars with their dresses. This was often an item which could be sewon on for a dressy effect or esily removed by pulling out a few stitches. We do note that English girls cintinue to wear lace collrs during the Funtleroy Craze, in America we see mothers tending to reserve lace collars for boys during this period.


Fancy clothing styles for boys with lace and ruffles were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, perhaps more than in any other European country. Details on the lace collars worn by French boys, however, have not yet been compliled. We note a French boy from an aristocratic family wearing a modest lace collar in 1890.


I believe lace collars were popular in Italy. Unfortunately, HBC has not been successful in obtaining Italian information yet.


HBC believes that Little Lord Fauntleroy suits were not as widely worn in Germany as in other European countries, although HBC does not have adequate information for any such definitive conclusions at this time. It is known, however, that some at least some German boys did wear lace collars, although how common this was is not yet known. We believe that is was more common in Bavaria and other southern German states.


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Created: December 27, 1998
Last updated: 7:45 AM 12/8/2015