Cuffs on Eton Shirts

Figure 1.--The Eton collar was once though of as esential for a well dresses boy and was required at many schools. It largely disappeared during the 1930s, but is still worn by some English boy choirs. There was no destinctive cuff worn with the Eton collar.

Eton collars were large stiff white collars worn by the students at Eton school. Given the prestige of Eton, the fashion of Eton collars became widely worn both in England and America during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The shirt cuffs worn by the boys never attracted great attention, unlike the collars which became a fashion mainstay. They certainly looked uncomfortable, but many at the time did not believe a boy to be well dressed without a Eton collar. Eton collars proved so popular that they were used with many garments besides school uniforms. Little boys wore them with dresses and kilts. Older boys wore them eith suits--especially Norfolk suits. Boys wore a varitiy of ties and bows with their Eton collars. Younger boys may have worn large floppy bows. Older boy might have worn a type of bow tie or a necktie with a large knot and small vertical fall. Some Eton collars were worn with no bow or tie.

Classic Eton Suits

Eton suits were worn by the junior boys at the school. They had short jackets were worn with the stiff Eton collars. The Eton suit became a fashion mainstay for severalmgenerations of European boys, although it was less popular in the United States.

Figure 2.--This Eton boy's cuffs, like his collar are well starched.

The Cuffs

I am not sure about the cuffs worn with Eton collars. Unlike the more striking collars, they seemed to have attracted little attention. I have found no written material on the subject. The photographic record, however, offers some clues.

One British observer reports that in the more formal days (i.e. before World War II) the cuffs would have been well starched, just like the collar. It's evident from available images that both collar and cuffs were once worn well starched. A British contributor believes that the shirt used to be worn with cufflinks. By contrast, it's unlikely that the present daychoristers of Kings Colllege Cambridge wear cufflinks with Etons. Probably too fiddly and formal. Their shirts now would have ordinary button up cuffs and be unstarched.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: September 4, 1998
Last updated: September 6, 1998