Boys' Clothing Glossary: "C"

Figure 1.--Corduroy has been a very popular material for boys' clothes, although since the 1960s it has declined substantially with many boys preferring denim jeans. Some European Scouts wore corduroy short pants. Some French Scouts still do.

We have begun to build a glossary of boys' clothing terms. As boys clothes until the 19th century was the sane as adult male clothing, we have included many applicable men's clothing terms. We have also included some women's terms as younger boys commonly wore dresses until the 20th century. As HBC is extensively used by non-native English speakers we plan to give considerable attention to this glossary so that words can be looked up. It will also serve as an index as we will provide links to the appropriate pages. We eventually hope to add foreign words, but that will take some time.

Cable-stitch: A series of stitches used in knitting to produce a cable effect. Commionly used for children's kneesocks in the United States, but more popular with girls. Some sweaters were also made with canle-sticjing styles.

Cack: A soft-soled, heelless shoe for infants.

Cagoule: THis is a British term. I do not think many Americans will recognize it. It means a lightweight anorak. This would be a lightweight hooded waterproof top or jacket. It is made of such a light-weifgt material that it can even be folded up and easily. We have noted brightly colored ones (often red or yellow) being carried by Cubs on their belt as a compact bundle at the back. It is useful in England and Scotland where rain showers can come up quickly. So boys can carry this garment instead of a heavy raincoat. The term appears to have appeared in the mid-20th century, adopted ffrom French. The term reltes to “cowl,” from Latin cucullus “cap, hood” which is the source of the English word cowl. All cagoules have hoods for rain protection.

Camiknickers: A woman's one-piece fitted undergarment combining a camisole and knickers.

Camise: A lightweight, loose-fitting shirt or smock with long sleeves.

Camisole: A short garment worn underneath a sheer bodice to conceal the underwear. A woman's negligee jacket. A sleeved jacket or jersey once worn by men.

Camouflage: Clothing made of fabric with a mottled design, usually in shades of green and brown, similar to that used in military camouflage. There is also tan camafloge used for desert wear. Both shirts and pants are made with camouflage material. Once used primarily by soldiers and hunters, after the Vietnam War ended, camouflage became a popular style.

Campaign hat: A felt hat with a broad, stiff brim and four dents in the crown, formerly worn by American World War I soldiers and still worn by drill seargeants. A hat resembling the military cap is worn by forest rangers, state troopers, boy scouts (but not cubs), and other groups. The campaihn hat was the original boy scout hat style, but is now mostly used in recreations and by small European scout associations.

Camp shirt: A short-sleeved shirt or blouse with a notched collar and usually two breast pockets.

Camp shorts: Camp shorts began to appear in America in the 1960s. I first remember seeing them in 1961, but they may have appeared earlier. They continued to be worn through the 1980s. They were so named because they were a handy style to wear at camp. The large pockets provide ample space for a boy to squirle away rocks, leaves, and even a spare frog he might come across. This was one factor in their popularity with boys. Although named for camp wear, more often they were sinply summer play wear at home. Camp shorts were generally cut at mid-lengths. The most common material was woven polyester-and-cotton denim.

Cap: A close-fitting covering for the head, usually of soft supple material and having no or only a partial visor-like brim. Boys have once worn a variety of caps, but now primarily wear baseball caps.

Cape: A sleeveless garment of various lengths, fastened around the neck and falling loosely from the shoulders, worn separately or attached to a coat or other outer garment.

Cape collar: A soft, wide, circular collar that covers the shoulders and the upper arms like a cape.

Capelet: A short cape usually covering just the shoulders.

Capote: A long cloak with a hood. A close-fitting, caplike bonnet worn by women and children in the mid-Victorian period.

Capri pants: Calf-length pants worn by girls. Similar pants called clam diggers and peddal pushers were worn by boys in the 1960s, but were not very popular.

Capris: Shortened name for Capri pants.

Cardigan sweater: A usually collarless knitted sweater or jacket that opens down the front. Named for the Earl of Cardigan.

Cargo pants: Pants with cargo pockets. They appear to have evolved from camp shorts and the pants worn by American servicemen in Viet Nam. Became a popular fashion in the late 1990s.

Cargo pocket: A large patch pocket, usually pleated at the sides and often having a flap. First used in boys' clothing for camp shorts in the 1960s, but adopted by the American Scouts for Scout and Cub pants. Pants worn by Americam servicemen in Viet Nam had these pockets. Also popular for generally boys' cargo pants in the 1990s.

Cargo shorts: Cargo shorts which evolved from camp shorts are very popular in California in the early 2000s. The style is found on khaki cotton twill, cord, nylon, and blue jean shorts. A California reader reports that in 2001 that cargo shorts were the most popular style of short pants. They vary in length from above the knee to halfway down the shin. They are popular with men as well as boys, although most men don't like the longer lengths.

Casual Clothes: Casual clothes began to appear and grow in popularity after World War I (1914-18). Boys in the 19th century did not really have casual clothes, but rather wore their older clothes when not dressing up. Many more occasions required formal dress in the 19th century than is the case today. The shattering of the old order with all of its formality made posible the new casual modern era. The terrible carnage of the war helped to invalidate the old certainties, with all the old formalities. Although the adotion of the casual life style and fashions was not fully adopted until after Wotld Wae II (1939-45) the trends were clearly notable as early as the 1920s.

Cavalier hat: A Cavalier hat is a wide-brimmed, plumed hat worn by cavaliers in the 17th century. They are especially assciated with the suporters of Charles I in the English Civil War. The common style was to pin the right side of the brim up to the crown so that the wearer's sword arm could move freely above the shoulder. The Cavelier style was one of the inspirations for boys' Fauntleroy suits in the late 19th century.

Chemise: A long-sleeved shirt-like undergarment worn under clothing, men's-waist to mid-thigh length, women's-mid-calf to floor length.


Choir costumes: Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the early years of the church. Some of the first European schools after the fall of the Roman Empire were formed by the church at monestaries to educate young choristers. The choirs were primarily associated with the Catholic Church, but choirs were also formed by some Protestant churches. The Orthodox Church was less interested in boy choirs. The choral tradition was to a large part lost in the disorders and wars following the Reformation and relious wars of the 17th century. It was further weakened as a result of the anti-clerical direction of the French Revolution. Choirs survived in England and scattered other lications in Germany and Austria. The boy choral tradition was revived in the 20th century, especially in England, France, Germany, and America. Although there are now many girls' and mixed choirs, until recently the church choirs were all boy choirs.

Clam diggers: Calf-length pants worn by boys and girls in the 1960s, but were not very popular with boys. Similar to peddal pushers and Capri pants.

Cloak: The cloak has been the most enduring of outer garments throughout the history of fashion. In the 18th century a man's cloak was made with a collar at the neck, a cape over the shoulders, and hung to the knee or below. The most usual form was circular. Cloaks were made of dense well-fulled wools, often dyed scarlet. Other choices in fabric included worsteds, camlets, and occasionally plaids. Cloaks were also known a "roquelaires" or "rockets." It was in the 18th century that a rival to the dominance of the cloak appeared in the form of the great coat.

Clout: A "clout" was the 18th century term for diapper. It was commonly made of linen fabric and could be pinned with straight pins, saftey pins not yet being invented, or tied with tapes.

Coalman cap: A coalman cap had short viser with a protective flap at the back. The name came from the caps worn by English coal deliverers to protect their backs from dust. A similar has been adopted by schools in Australian and New Zealand to protect the children from sun exposure.

Coat: A coat was the uppermost layer of the 18th century man's suit, worn over waistcoat and breeches. Both the cut and the title of the fashionable coat saw several evolutions through the course of the century. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries a coat was a relatively straight loose garment, with the slight fullness in the knee-length skirts falling into folds over the backside of the hips. In the 1720s and 1730s the skirts of the fashionable coat grew in volume and were set into regular pleats. In the 1730s an alternative to the weighty full skirted coat was developed. This new fashioned coat, with narrow skirts set in pleats and other defining features, including a collar, was termed a Frock. Through the middle decades of the century both the coat and the frock were worn, coats being for fashionable full dress, frocks for fashionable undress. By the 1770s the distinctions in purpose and terminology were becoming blurred. None but the most conservative older man would be seen in a full-skirted coat. The frock had entered into fashionable full dress, and was by many simply referred to as a coat. In the closing decade of the 18th century and into the next, the frock dominated fashionable dress and language.

Coat--cold weather: A coat is an outer garment with sleeves covering at least the upper portion of the body. HBC is classifying the longer garments as coats and the shorter garments as jackets. Other authors might use the weight of the garment to destinguish between coats and jackets among outerwear garments. This can be quite confusing as in some instances the word javket and coat in American English is used interchangeably. A good example is either suit or coat can be used tio describe the top part of a suit. HBC is using coats here to mean outer garments for cold weather wear. Boys have worn a wide variety of coats. Perhaps the most common is the overcoat, but other styles have been worn as well.

Coated nylon: Nylon fabric coated with polyurethane to make it waterproof, windproof, and non-breathable.

Cocked hat: A three-cornered hat.

Cod piece: The cod piece is surely on of the most bizzare items of Western dress. The cod piece began as a simple unadorned flap for the front of men's trousers before they developed the modern form. The purpose was modesty, providing a covering for the genitals. The cod piece appeared in the late middle ages. Into the Renaissance era the cod piece became much more elaborate. The simple flap became a pouch and was held closed by laces, buttons, or other methods. It became an important fashion statement for men in the 15th and 16th centuries. The evolution of the cod piece is associated with the development of the doublet as an important garment. In the era before the development of modern trousers, the codpiece was entirely a practical matter of modesty. Men wore snug-fitting hose which were were not a single garment like modern tights. Thus they were open at the crotch. The genitalia hung loose, but were covered by the doublet. Many fashion historians, but not all, believe that the doublet during the Renaissance developed into a shorter garment which left the genital area exposed. The shortening of the doublet left the genital area exposed. Thus the codpiece developed not only as a simple modesty device, but eventually an elaborately decorated fashion statement. Codpieces came to be shaped toactually emphasize the male genitalia. Some were enlarged by padding. There are examples of rather bizarrely fashioned cod pieces. shaped fashion item. Perhaps even more surprising is that once the cod piece was transformed from a flap to a pouch, men began using it as a kind of pocket. Some used it for valuables like coins.

Cold-weather gear: Children used to have to dress much more warmly than is the case today. Now children bundle up in warm clothing when going outdoors, but may dress like it is the summer indoors thanks to central heating. Quite a bit of information is available on HBC on cold weather garments.

Collars: Boys over the ages have worn a variety of shirt collars. Sometimes just like their dads. Other times there were special juvenile styles. Collars were often worn open, especially by younger boys in the early 19th century. Gradually as the century progressed buttoned collars became more common. By the end of the 19th century, several collar styles were worn with bows, in some cases large floppy bows. These large bows were particularly prevelent in America.

Color: Some authors use the modern associations between colors and genders as a way of determining gender in old paintings. There is much reason to believe, however that the blue-for-boys, pink-for-girls idea is a fairly modern one, even a 20th-century convention. Other colors such as the idea that wedding dresses must be white are fairly recent, many dating to the Victorian era.

Coolmax: An excellent wicking Dupont fiber for socks, which leads to cooler, drier feet and fewer blisters.

Cord pants:

Cord shorts: Cord shorts became very popular for boys casual wear in England and France during the 1920s and 30s. They were still widely worn in the 1950s, but began to decline as more and more boys preferred jeans to cord shorts. Theywere also adopted for schoolwear and Scout uniforms. American boys did not commonly wear cord shortsm but they were brirfly popular in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Corduroy: Corduroy is often reported to be a French fabric, litterly "fabric of the king". This appears to be an eronious report. Corduroy instead appears to be a late-18th century English invention. Cotton corduroy was widely used by workers in the 19th century and became a popular childrens fabric by the early 20th century because of its warmth and durability. American boys commonly wore cord knickers and British and French boys cord shorts. The German Wandervogel often wore cord shorts. Corduroy was eclipsed by denim after World War II, but is still commonly used for children's clothing.

Coronet: A coronet is a small crown worn by the nobility as a symbol of their rank.

Cotton: Best used in hot and humid climates where cotton's breathability and coolness are matchless. These same characteristics make cotton clothing a bad idea for backpacking in cold and rainy weather. Wet cotton clothing in temperatures well-above freezing is a leading cause of hypothermia and resulting death.

Country Styles: Boys in America and Europe have at times dressed similarly and at other times there have been substantyial variations. During some eras styles were similar across national borders and during other eras there were substantial differences with boys clothes in different countries. American boys in the 1920s for example wore knickers while European boys wore short pants. Today there are great similarities among boys clothes in Europe and America. Some boys' clothing styles originated in folk dress such as kilts in Scotland and lederhosen in Germany. Some styles were strongly influenced by royal or elite preferences, such as Queen Victoria dressing the young princes in sailor suits. Sometimes opposite pattens emerge such as American middle-class children adopting black hip-hop styles, popular in the inner-city ghettoes. Sometimes Governments have acted to set styles such as the French Third Republic in the 1870s mandating smocks for school wear so as less affluent children would not feel at a disadvantage to children whose parents could afford better clothes.

Cowboy hat: A cow boy hat is a generic term for a variety of wide-brimmed hats worn weith a variety of crowns. The name comes from the hats that became popular with cowboys in the American west. Related to the Meican "Sombrero". Usually made of felt and to a lesser extent leather. Cow boy hats were popular with American boys from the 1930s through the 1960s. See also "Stetson" amd "Ten gallon hat".

Crown: Head-dress usually made of gold and worn as a symbol of sovereignty by monarchs. Also the top part of a head or hat.

Cravat: The cravat has origins dating back to Crotaian warriors and the stylish Louis XIV. The 18th-century man almost always wore some sort of neck cloth, whether fashionably dressed or at labor. The cravat was one of many forms of neckwear. It was a narrow length of white linen that could be adorned on its ends with lace, fringe, or knots. It was worn wrapped about the throat and loosely tied in front. By the mid 18th century it was worn in informal attire.

Cuffs: Boys over the ages have worn a variety of shirt cuffs. All shirts had cuffs through the early 20th century because they all long sleeves. Cuffs varied greatly over time, ranging from elaborate lace and ruffles matching the collar to very plain cuffs without embelishment. Some of the most elaborate boys cuffs appeared during the Fautleroy craze of the late 19th century. Since then boys have generally worn very plain shirt cuffs with single button closure. In some eras they were identical or similar to men's collars, such as in the 18th Century jabots or in the modern era. In other times cuffs could be quite different, such as sailor cuffs and Fauntleroy lace and ruffle cuffs.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: April 24, 1998
Last updated: 6:11 PM 5/15/2005