*** Little Lord Fauntleroy suits: National styles

National Little Lord Fauntleroy Suits: Individual Countries

Figure 1.--These American brothers from Cattleburg, Kansas wear Fauntleroy outfits with huge ruffled collars in the 1890s. The Fauntleroy suits was originally adopted by affluent families, but gradually moderate-income families, like the mother of these boys, adopted the style set by the upperclasses.

No where was the Fauntleroy suit as popular as it came to be in America. The suits Mrs. Burnett created, however, must have been influenced by her English birth and upbringing and the time she spent in France where her youngest son, Vivian, was born. The style was also very popular in England, France, Italy, and other countries as well. Much of the information I have on thd style is American and British. I think this is primarily brcause most of my sources are English language sources. I am hoping that our European HBC viewers will contribute information about the popularity of the style on the continent. Notably, American boys' fashions have notably, with the exception of the Fauntleroy suit and asociated ringlet curls, been much less fancy than French or Italian styles. The topic of national styles certainly requires further research. At this time HBC has only limited information identifying differences in the Fauntleroy suits worn in various countries or on the popularity of the style in those countries. And the information that I do have is largely American. This information certainly is incomplete. Any data that I obtain, however, I will archive here. Some basic patterns do appear to be emerging. Any comments that readers may have would be most welcome.

America, North


No where was the Fauntleroy suit more popular than in America. Quite a number of boys wore formal velvet Fauntleroy suits, but many more boys wore less expensive suits with large lace or ruffled collars. American boys generally wore Fauntleroy suits with wide-brimmed sailor hats. Other head gear was worn, but was not nearly as popular as in Europe. Someboys wore their Fauntleroy suits with long ringlet curls. Most of the American boys with long hair wore ringlets. I was not common for boys to have long uncurled hair. One of the most destinctive elements of the American Fauntleroy suit was that it was worn with large, carefully tied bows. Most boys wore large bows to match the large collars. Almost all Fauntleroy suits, except for kilt suits, were worn with knee pants. Unlike England. knicker Fauntleroy suits were rare. The American Fauntleroy suit was often worn with heavy high top shoes that looked like boots. The patent leather pumps and buckle shoes worn in England were much less common in America.

Canadian Fauntleroy suits
Figure 2.--Canadian boys wore Fauntleroy suits styled similarly to those worn by American boys. Ringlet curls, however, were not as common. Note the wide-brimmed sailor hat.


We notice Canadia boys wearing Fauntleroy velvet suits in the late-19th century. This was a very popular style, both in North America and Europe. As far as we can tell the stles and chronology as well as the conventions involved were very similar to those in the United States, although our archive of Canadian images is still quite limited. We note the same styles and trim such as lace collars and floppy bows. Boys seem to have worn Fauntleroy suits from about 3-8 years of age, but we note some older boys as well. The original inspiration for fancy suits for younger boys was France where Mrs. Burnett who was English and moved to America as a youth lived for a few years. The style began in the late-19th century with the publication of Mrs. Burnett's book and continued into the early 20th century. We are unsure if there were differences among the English and French community concerning the styles and wearing of Fauntleroy suits. Many Fauntleroy suits were back velvet, but we notice other colors of velvet and other material as well. We note a burgandy Fauntleroy suit that a Canadian boy wore for a wedding in 1896.



We believe the Fauntleroy suit was worn in Austria, at least in Vienna and other cities by boys from affluent families. Francis Burnett launched the style in America with the publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885). There were, however, European antecedents. French styles were more influential in Austria than in Germany. We are not sure, however, at this time just how common Fauntleroy suits were in Austria. This is because our Austrian 19th century is very limited, even for the late-19th century when the Fauntleroy suit was in full force. So our assessment is limted at this time. And of course Austria (especially Vienna) was particulrly imporant because it influenced fashions throughout the large Austro-Hungarian Empire. an here it just not be thought that Vienna fashions was a good indicator as to what boys were wearing in the many rural villages. (This is in contast to America where the photographic record shows that the Fauntleroy Craze swept the nation.) We have not yet found formal Fauntleriy suits with velvet cut-away jackets and lacy, ruffled blouses. But because of our limited archive, we can not yet speak to actual prevalence and trends. We do see Austrian boys, mostly Vienna boys, wearing outfits with Fauntleroy touches such as lace collars and large bows. Most of the images we have found date from the early-20th century. They were most common before World war I, but we see a few examples after the war.


Fauntleroy suits were worn in Belgium. Mrs Burnett's book was a sensation in Europe as well as America and affected boys fashions--although not to the same sdegree as in America. We have, however, very little information at this time, especially 19th century imsges. As best we can tell, Belgian Fsuntleroy suit styles were very similar to those prevalent in France. This was surely the case in Wallonia--the French speaking areas of the country. Fauntleroy suits may have been less popular in Flemish (Dutch) speaking Flanders. Here there were also Dutch and German influences. We are not sure about Fauntleroy suit styles. We notice the suits being worn with lace collars. Belgium of course was famous for its lace. Nor do we know anything about age conventions. We are unable to assess Belgian trends to any extent because our archive is fairly limited and we have found few examples of Fauntleroy suits in Belgium so far. We believe this is because our archive is very limited not because Fauntleroy suits were not very common. We have no information on social class conventions.

Figure 3.--This London boy had his portrait taken by a Hyde Park photographer, probably in the 1880s. Note the lace trim at the knee, this was not very common for American boys.


Fauntleroy suits were widely worn in England, but I believe the style was less popular for working-class families than was the case of America. In adiition, the convention of sending boys off to boarding prep schools at about 8 years of age was becoming established in the 1880s--the same time of the Fauntkleroy craze. Few boys after they left for their prep schools would condescend to wear Fauntleroy suits when they came home. There also were some stylistic differences. Wide brimmed sailor hats were less common as were ringlet curls. Also we have noted many English boys wearing bloomer knickers rather than kneepants as were most common in America. One major difference is that English boys less commonly wore the huge bow tied in elegant classic bows. English suits often had knicker pants and the boys did not often wear the boot-like high button shoes. Rather English boys more commonly wore patent leather shoes like pumps, strap shoes, and buckle shoes even before the turn of the century.


Fauntleroy suits were popular in France, although I have not commonly seen the term used to discuss fancy suits made out of velvet and other luxurious materials. Fancy French suits for boys were in fact the inspiration for the famous garment for the litterary hero, Little Lord Fauntleroy. The authoress, Frances Hodgson Burnett, lived in France for a short period with her two young sons before writing the book. The large bows that American boys wore with their suits, however, were not nearly as popular in France. Also it was much less common for French boys to wear their long hair in ringlet curls.


I believe that the Fauntleroy suit and long hair, especially ringlets, were less popular in Germany than in America and other European countries. We do not have adequate information at this time, however, to make any definitive statement. We do know that Fauntleroy suits were worn to some extent in Germany, but we do not know to what extent. We believe that it may have been more of an aristocratic or wealthy than a middle-class style as was the case in America. Also there may have been significant regional differences. Germany was only unified in 1871 and destinct regional differences persisted in Germany for many years. Fauntleroy suits seem more likely to have been worn in Bavaria, for example than more austere Prussia.


We do not see many Greek boys wearing Fauntleroy suits during the height of the Fauntleroy craze (1885-1905). This is an era for which we have found relatively few images. We suspect that there were relativly few Greek boys wearing Fauntleroy suits. Here we think the poverty of Greece and the rather small middle class as factors. We do begin to see some Greek boys waring Fauntleroy styles outfits after World War I in the inter-War era. This atually seems more common than actual Funtleroy suits during the Fauntleroy Craze. A good example is an unidentified liitle boy in a 1930s family porrait.


The Fauntleroy suit was a hugely popular American and British style, but much less popular on the Continent. . Our Hungaian archive is very limited. We thus do not know just how common Fauntleroy suits were in Hungary. Of course Germany and Austria were major influences, but our 19th century archive is nearly non-existent. But we do not see many Fauntleroy suits in Germany and Austria either. We do note a few 20th cehntury images. These are vestages of the Fauntleroy style among wealthy families in the inter-War era. We see the same phenomenon in Germany and Austria. They were sometimes worn with white long stockings, something not seen in the 19th century. We see some of this in America as well.

Italian Fauntleroy suits
Figure 4.--These Genoa boys wear suits with Fauntleroy styling in the 1890s. Note that some of the outfits are sailor suits with Fauntleroy trim added.


We believe the Fauntleroy suit was very popular in Italy. We do not, however, yet have any detailed information at this time in historic Italian fashions. We have found some images of Italian boys wearing both Fauntleroy suits as well as suits with Fauntleroy styling.


We notice a few younger Latvian boys wearing Fauntleroy suits. We are not sure to waht exten Faintleroy suits were worn during the actual Fauntleroy era (1885-1905). This of course during the Tsarist era, and our archive is very limited. We do see some examples after World War I and independence during the inter-War era (1920s-30s). The ones we are found are rather like the ones we see in Germany during the inter-War era. The blouses the boys wore often has ruffled collars, but they were smaller and more restrained than the huge, elaborate collars we see during the Fauntleroy era (figure 1). They were not all that common, but we see some in the photographi record. We believe that they were mostly worn by boys from prosperous families. There was a substantial German ethnic community in Latvia, primarily located in Riga and the other cities and thus playing an important role in Latvian society. The centuries-long German presence in the Baltics ended just before Workd War II ended when Hitler ordered ethnic Germans in the Baltics Home to the Reich (1939).



We do not have much information on Poland and virtually none on Fauntleroy out fits in Poland. We have found a paintiung by Kazimierz Mordasewicz of the Jaroszynscy brothers (1912). The Fauntleroy suits worn during the Craze Era (1895-1905) involved large collar buttoning collars. Gere we see see an open collar, sleeceless versions. We see other open collars in the 1910s, mostly being worn b=y rich or aristocratic Europwan families. This is the inly sleeveless example we have found.


We notice boys wearing fancy velvet suits (1870s). The Fauntleroy craze emerged on the fashion scene with the publication of Mrs. Burnett's book (1885). It was an immediate senstation in America. The photographic record shows countless boys wearing Fauntleroy suits or suits with Fauntleroy styling. The fashion spread across the Atlantic, the first major fashion style to ,most eastward across the Atlantic. The Fauntleroy craze was importnt in Europe, but not nearly as important as in America. We do not think thst the Fauntleroy Craze was a probounced in Scotland as in Englnd. Here are smaller Scottish archive may be affecting our asssessment. So at this time we are unable to sau how prevalkenbt Fauntleoy suits wrre in Scotland, The Fauntleroy Craze was most popular in the late-19yh cenbtury, about 1885-1905. We do not yet, however, hsve any 19th century examples. We have found some examples from the early-20th century. We have a portrait of an Edinburgh boy wearing a Fauntleroy outfit, but with a cape rather than a jacket. Some boys from well-to-do families wore Fauntleroy suits. We have found another ecample done as a kind of bloomer knicker romper suit at about the same time. This is not precisely a Fauntleroy suit, but the velvet mterial and lace collr gives it a Fauntleroy look. None of the examples we have found so far look like outfits that would have been widely worn.


We have not found mamy photographs of Spanish boys wearing Fauntleroy suits. We are mot entirely sure why. Spain was a relatively poor country. This means that fewer families could afford fancy clothes for children. Bit it also mean that that there was less money for phptographic portraits as wellm so the absence of many examples in part may reflect the smaller size of the photographic record. As best we can tell in Spain Faintleroy suits were modtly worn by boys from wealthy families. Inlik America where quite a large mumber of boys wore Fauntlrtoy suits o trgular suits with Fauntleroy elemenbts. As far as we cam tell, this was much less common in Spain. One example we havev found is the Besabe boys painted by Julio Tomero de Torres (1919). The noys have lace collars rather than the more common ruffled collars. They also wore short pants with white socks rather than knee pants with long stockings.


Sweden and Scandanavia in general ws not as affected by the Fauntelroy Craze as many other countries. It was not, however, unaffected. We note a Trelleborg boy in the 1890s wearing one of the largest decirative collars we have gave ever noted. It is a square collar fringed with elaborate lace--puttingmany American Fauntleroy collars to nshame. His brother wears an unusual sailor outfit with exposes a huge white area. Mother was clearly a fashionista.


We notice a variety of suits in Switerlnd done specially for younger boys as was the case in other European countries. We do not see any especially Swiss designs. What we see are the same stylws we see in other Western European countries. Many of these were different than standard suits in that they did not necessarily include a jacket. And we see suit outfits with jackets. These infludes Little Lord Fauntleroy suits. The Fauntleroy suit was primarily an American style, inspired by fancy outfits Mrs. Buenett, the aithor of Little Lord Fauntleroy saw while living in Paris. She published her book (1885) and without really intending to do so launched the Fauntleroy Craze. This was mpre prounounced in America, but we see the suits in Europe as well. This was especially the case in Britain, but we see it as well in France. Fauntleroy suits seem far less commom in Germany. Our Swiss archive is limited. We have very few examples of Swiss Fauntleroy suits or Fauntleroy styling elements. We are not sure, however, what this reflects. It could be actual prevalence durung the Fauntleroy Craze of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Or it could more the limited size of our archive. So far the examples we have found are from the French-speaking cantons. The German cantons seem to reflect German fashions where the Fauntleroy suit does not seem to be very popular.



Australia like England and America was caught up in the "Fauntleroy craze" that followed the publication of Mrs. Burnett's book Little Lord Fauntleroy in the mid-1880s. We still have little information at this time on the phenomenon in Australia. We assume that styles followed the English pattern and the chronology was similar to that in England. We are not sure what colors of Fauntleroy suits were worn in Australia, because of the balck and white photography of the day. Hopefully Australian readers will furnish is with clothing catalogs to provide more information. We do note one image showing what looks like a black suit worn with what looks like a red waistband. English boys commonly wore knicker-style pants with their Fauntleroy suits than Ameerican boys who more commonly wore kneepants. We do not yet know what age boys wore Fauntleroy suits in Australia and if this differed from the pattern in England and America. As in England the Fauntleroy suits were often worn with wide brimmed sailor hats.


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Created: 2:37 AM 12/23/2007
Last updated: 10:15 PM 1/28/2022