American Eton Suits: Accompaning Clothing

Figure 1.--Here we see an American boy, probably in the 1930s wearing an Eton suit. He wears it with an Eton collar and a necktie. Sandals wee less common than shoes. Here the boys's white suit, ankle socks, and sandals are a Summer and rather informal style. An American reader writes, "I would place the photo no earlier than the late 1940s, more likely the 1960s -- mainly on account of the white two strap sandals. I am guessing that the boys are American since that style of sandal seems to have been more popular in the US than elsewhere. Up until the 1940s, most such sandals seem to have been brown or possibly red. Based on what I have seen in old Sears and similar catalogs, the idea of using white two-strap sandals rather than one-strap shoes for dress-up or "dressy casual" seems to have started in the 1940s and really got going in the late 1950s. My own sons wore such outfits in the late 1970s and 1980s, and I believe my youngest may have dressed similar to the older boy as late as the early 1990s."

There was a range of accimpanying garments that were commonly wirn with Eton suits. These garments have varied over time and according to the formality of the event for whoch the suit was being worn. Another factor is that by the 1950s many school-age boys stopped wearing Eton suits. the Eton suit Some boys had matching peaked caps to wear with their Eton suits. The principal accessory for the Eton suit was a blouse. The younger boys wearing Eton suits generally wore blouses rather than shirts, but some boys also wore shirts. For many reaon Eton collars were common, than Peter Pan collars became more common. In recent years shirts have become more common. The classic suit was usually worn without a tie--especially for younger boys. Some boys wore them with bow ties, although this was not usually the case with more affluent families. The American Eton suit was never worn with a standard necktie. Boys commonly wore knnesocks with Eton suits, even in the summer. This was not alwaus the case , but was the most common pattern. Here formality was a factor

Peaked Caps

The so-called Eton suit that younger American boys began wearing in the 1920s was worn from the beginning with an English peaked cap. This was the standard peaked cap of a matching material and color. The cap appeared in America before the turn of the centurty. It was commonly worn by schoolage boys. By the 1920s the sailor hap which s for so many years had dominated dressy head wear for boys had declibned in popularity. Thus the peaked cap which had an English images, was combined with the Eton suit. Older boys also wore it with more matured styled suits. The cap became less common, however, in the 1960s when headwear in general became less commonly worn.

Shirts-like Garments

These junior Eton suits were mostly associted with Eton looking collars, but we also see Peter Pan collars as well as oher collars including sports collars and regular shirt collars popular during the many decdes the suits were worn. Give the age range of these suits, many boys wore them with blouses, but they were aiso worn with shirts. Blouses were still common for boys in the 1920s, but still worn by younger boys even at mid-century. The classic Eton collar was a detchable collar. We see these suits after World War II in the 1920s when the detachable collar was going out of style, but had not yet disappeared. Many Eton suit were worn with Eton shaped collars, but thy seem to be blouses with attched collars, not detachable collars. Putting stiff detachable collars on younger boys by the 1920s was not very common as more and more concessions wre made to infirmlity, especually for younger children. .


The classic suit was usually worn without a tie--especially for younger boys. We have noted some boys wearing Eton suits with neck ties, but this appears to have been primarily in the early years, the 1920s and 30s. The boy here wears a necktie (figure 1). It does not seem to have been very common. Some boys wore them with bow ties, especially by the 1950s. This was usually the case with more affluent families. Some boys during the 1920s and 30s wore them without a tie. One style occasionally seen was the large vertical collar meant to be worn open. This style, however, was not common with the American Eton suit. Most boys wore it with closed collar blouses or shirts, although the tie was highly variable, including the no tie option.


Eton suits were commonly worn with knee socks, but not the turn over top British kneesocks. Knee socks matching the color of the suit were commonly chosen. Sometimes white kneesocks were worn, often by younger boys for formal occasions. While knee socks were more common, some boys also wore ankel socks, especially in the 1920s-40s. A few boys during the 1920s wore Eton suits with long stockings, bit this was not very common. . We also notice boys wearing ankle socks. This was isually for less formal occassions.


Most American boys we have noted wearing Eton suits, wear them with shoes. The style of shoes have varied. We note saddle shoes being worn with the suits beginning in the 1940s, but standard shoes were more common. We have noted both black and white shoes. For formal occasions strap shoes have been worn, but this was not very common. We have also noted boys wearing sandals. This was less common than shoes, in part because sandals were not commonly worn by American boys. Here seasonality is a factor. We also beliec=vce that sandals were somewhat more common in the South.


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Created: 2:04 AM 8/5/2005
Last updated: 8:41 AM 9/8/2017