Boys' Clothing Glossary: "T"

Figure 1.--.

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.

T shirts: "T"-shirts and jeans are some of the most commonly worn clothes worn by modern boys. In is interesting to note that neither were commonly worn by American boys until after the Second World War (1945). Until the 1940s boys almost always wore shirts with collars, although collar styles had changed greatly over the years. These clothes did not reach Europe and Engand until the 1960s-70s. T-shirts became popular in America during the 1940s. The inital ones had bright horizontal stripes. There were both short and long sleeved styles. There popularity gradually spread overseas. During the 1970s it became stylish to put logos on T-shirts. At first sport logos were popular. Corporate logo followed as did logos with social or a variety of other messages.

Tam O'Shanter: A brimless Scottish cap with a flat top that projects all around the head. A Tam O'Shanter or Tam is basically a beret with a pom of various sizes and colors on top. Some have ribbon streamers. Also referred to as a Balmoral tam. I am not sure if there is any difference between a Tam ans a Balmoral cap. Worn by both boys and girls as well as soldiers.

Tartan: The Tartan describes the distinctive checkered pattern generally worked out in a woven material such as woolen cloth. Each particular pattern is known as a "sett". Such tartan material is a characteristically Scottish product. Historically in each district the local weavers produced a distinctive tartan pattern or sett. Thus members of the same clan probably wore the particular tartan woven and dyed in their neibourhood. The distinctive sett adopted by the chief and his relatives became traditionally the "Clan Tartan." When the statutory ban of Highland Dress was removed in 1702, the wearing of the clan tartan was a matter of pride. There are over 2,200 recognized, different, authentic tartans. The Scots who wear tartan are without exception friendly and proud of their heritage. If you are interested in which tartan they are wearing and why, it is not considered impolite to ask.

Tassel: A gassel is a pendant ornament to clothing, commonly caps. It was originally a clasp consisting of threads, small cords, or threads from a rounded knob or head. The word evolved from Middle English and Old French where it was a closure for a cloak.

Tights: Tights or garments looking like have been worn for centuries. Ove most of this era they were worn by adults, mostly men, and not children. They fell from style in the late 16th century as men began wearing knee breeches. They appeared again in the 19th century for specialized wear such as theatricals and athletics. They did not become coomonly worn children's clothes until after World War II in the late 1940s and early 50s. Children wore over the knee stockings in the early 20th century, but these were usually stockings and not tights. Conventions for wearing tights have varied from country to country. Very young boys might wear tights in America and England, but they were mostly worn by girls. In coninental Europe and Japan it was more common for boys to wear them.

Trews: "Trews" or "trouse"was the Scottish variant of the English word "trousers". Trews were close fitting tartan trousers. They were worn by certain Scottish regiments. These were also sometimes worn for dress occasions by Scotts instead of the kilt. Shortened versins of these trousers are worn under the kilt.

Trousers: During the 18th century breeches were worn by all levels of society; however, trousers were also worn by middling tradesmen, laborers, sailors, and slaves. Trousers were generally cut with a straight leg and were worn to the ankle or slightly shorter. As trousers were utilitarian garments, they were made mostly of durable linens. Boys from fashionable families first began wearing long trousers with skeleton suits in the late 18th century. Gentlemen followed suit in the 1820s. Boys began wearing short trousers at the turn of the 20th century.

Tunic: A simple lip-on garment made with or without sleeves and usually knee-length or longer, belted at the waist and worn as an outer garment by men and women.

Tuxedos: The tuxedo is esentially an adult fashion. Thus the history of the tuxedo deals with its development for men. Only recently in the 1980s have boys begun wearing tuxedos for formal occasions. Boys now wear them mostly with long pants. Some ring bearers, however, still wear short pants tuxedos. Tuxedo is an American word. The English term is "dinner jacket". The Dutch and French say "smoking".

Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 9, 2001
Last updated: November 3, 2001