Little Lord Fauntleroy Suits: Social Connotations

Figure 1.--

The Fauntleroy suit was in and of itself a status symbol on the part of late-19th century mothers. Both parents often wanted to demonstrate social status, but in the case of the Fauntleroy suit, it it was almost always the mother who made the choice. At the time the craze began, most children worked at very early ages. They often wore hand me down adult clothes, not specialized children garments. Furthermore, much of the contemporary literature of the day describes children not having any childhood due to economic needs. Children dressed in Fauntleroy suits could, obviously not work in factories, mines or on the farm. This was an instant statement of family wealth at the time. A child's juvenile status was another method of declaring wealth and status, especially an older boy dressed in such a fashion. The sumptuousness of the Fauntleroy outfits were another display of status--especially using expensive lace and fabrics for a boy's outfit. Velvet was very expensive and symbolized wealth. Also silk shirts were expensive and shirts with ruffles or expensive lace were not only expensive but required a great deal of time to maintain speaking of the mother's leisure time or access to domestic help. Furthermore, bows, sashes and ringlet curls required huge amounts of time to properly display and for most children some adult had to perform this task. The older the child the greater wealth described because the child's family was wealthy enough to maintain the juvenile status longer. A HBC reader writes, "I think the issue with the fauntleroy suit was that it had been used for many years by royalty, nobility and the affluent. Burnett popularized the style for the American masses just as a prolonged period of prosperity hit and families of more moderate means could afford to dress their children as European (may I add Western European) nobility.

Christopher Wagner

Fauntleroy Related Pages:
[Fauntleroy dresses] [Fauntleroy blouses] [Fauntleroy movies] [Lace collars] [Collar bows] [Vivian Benett]
[Fauntleroy patterns] [Literary characters: Cedric Erol]

Other Related Pages:
[Dresses] [Kilts] [Smocks] [Pinafores] [Velvet] [Sailor Hats] [Blouses]
[Ring Bearers] [Long hair] [Ringlet curls] [Bangs [Bows] [Sashes]
[Hair bows] [Lace collars] [Ruffled collars]

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Created: October 2, 2002
Last updated: October 2, 2002