Figure 5.--Some informal summer weddings have the children go barefoot. Note the ruffled collars.
Formal weddings in the first half of the 20th century used a great variety of costumes for the boys who participated as ring bearers and pages. Some weddings had the ring bearer in a costume harkening back to Little Lord Fauntleroy suits, although the wedding suits often are white, unlike actual Fauntleroy suits. Other popular ring bearer costumes for a
formal wedding include sailor suits, kilts, or military styled uniforms. The destinctive lace or ruffled collar are often the most important stylistic feature incorporated from the Fauntleroy style. Other styles in a variety of materials including velvet and satin were used. In most cases the outfits were especially designed for the wedding. Styles in addition to Fauntleroy suits and kilts included classic page boy costumes, dressy romper suits, and a wide variety of other imaginative styles.
Hats and caps are now uncommon, but a variety of styles have been
used. The most common hat has traditionally been the sailor hat. Boys
in sailor suits are even frilly blouses might wear
a straw sailor hat. These hats once came with a dangling streamer hanging at the back. The streamers are now less commonly used, but occasionally are employed. Boys in kilts might wear a Glengary cap.
One of the key elements when a ring bearer costume fo a formal wedding
is chosen is the collar. A variety of alternatives are possible.
One style sometimes chosen is elaborately embroidered
smocked collars. I believe this is a relatively new fashion beginning
about the 1950s.
Lace collars, sometimes with matching lace sleeve cuffs, are used with the most formal ring bearer costumes in the Fauntleroy or page-boy style. One company, for example, offeres ring bearer costumes in perfect harmony with the entire wedding party. This boys outfit with square Battenburg lace collar and knickers (or short pants) is availiable in all frabrications and colors.
Collars in white or ecru. Other boys styles include round Battenburg
collar, a round self collar with piping, and a square self collar with piping. Style# 1011. A self collar means a separate collar not a collar to a blouse.
Ruffled collars were commonly worn by boys in the early 19th Century. A Victorian fashions began to develop in the 1840s, ruffled collars were declining and lace collars beginning to appear. Ruffled collars again appeared
after the turn of the century. Often they were combined with matching ruffled sleeve cuffs, again with the most formal ring bearer costumes in the Fauntleroy or page-boy style.
Boys since the 1970s have less commonly worn
the lace and ruffled collars once worn in formal weddings. The
Peter Pan collars now commonly worn with Eton suits are now often seen
in ring bearer outfits.
Figure 6.--White Eton suits are now often used for the ring bearer.
One of the most popular styles for formal weddings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were suits based on Little Lord Fauntleroy suits. After the turn of the Century these suits were commonly worn with short pants, at first with long stockings and then with white kneesocks. Less formal costumes in America are often blue or white short pants Eton suits. White suits are common in the spring summer and black or navy blue Eton suits in the fall and winter. The shorts are usually suspender shorts. Some suits for weddings in the 1990s have knickers instead of the shorts. Traditional ring bearer costumes are becoming increasingly
less common even in formal weddings. Many weddings now even have the
ring bearer dressed in a tuxedo similar to the best man and other members of the groom's party.
Figure 7.--Knickers have become commonly worn by ring bearers since the 1980s.
The pants commonly worn by ring bearers has varied as boys fashions
Boys in the late 19th Centuries wore the knee pants commonly worn by boys at the time. Mostly they wore dark-colored long stockings with the kneepants.
Knickers became increasingly common in the 1890s, but
were less commonly worn by little boys seving as ring bearers. Knickers
have, however, become popular for ring bearers since the 1980s.
Fashions changed after the turn of the century. Short pants were commonly worn in Britain and Europe and even in America by little boys. Thus by
the 1920s and short pants became more common. The fashion of wearing short pants continued until the 1980s when knickers became increasingly more common.
Figure 8.--These boys serving as pages in a formal English wedding wear a kind of velvet romper suit.
Some fanciful styles employing romper-style outfits,
often in velvet or satin, were worn by ring bearers in the 1920s and 30s. The romper style was not much seen after the 1950s, even in formal weddings.
Ring bearers generally wear formal dress shoes for weddings. Mary Jane strap patent shoes or buckle shoes were once common. Strap shoes are now rarely used and instead buckle shoes are more common in formal weddings. Currently variants like saddle shoes
or plain black or white oxfords are frequently selected in less formal
weddings. Some outdoor weddings in the summer have the ring boy go barefoot.
Figure 9.--Prince William wore a classic sailor suit for his uncle Andrew's wedding in 1982(?). Note William's classic wide-brimmed sailor hat and strap patent leather shoes.
Ring bearers at Victorian weddings commonly wore long stockings, often. After the turn of the century white stockings or
white kneesocks were worn with the short pants that appeared after
the turn of the century and became particularly popular in the 1920s--
especially in Britain and Europe. Gradually kneesocks became increasingly common with short pants rather than long stockings. The convention of wearing kneesocks has continued even though boys do not commonly wear them any more, presumably because of a more formal look.
Theme costumes are aother type of ring bearer costme that are often
used for formal weddings. The most popular theme costumes are military
uniforms and ethnic costumes. Military uniforms are common and more
popular with the boys
than many of the more juvenile styles with shorts or knickers. Both
army and navy styles are used. Another
style popular in Britain are kilts.
Army uniforms, often with bright red jackets,
often worn with long white pants, are
worn by boys in Briish weddings. This tends to be one of the most
popular styles with the boys.
One of the most enduring fashions for ring boys and pages is the classic sailor suit--usually the white suit. Prince William, for example, wore a smart
long pants sailot suit and straw hat for his uncle's wedding.
Figure 10.--All white outfits for ring bearers and flower girls are common.
Another popular ring boy costume is one with an etnic influence. The most popular ethnic costume is the Scottish kilt
which has been worn by ring bearers since the Victorian era. Unlike most other ethnic costumes, a boy does not have to be Scottish to wear a kilt as a ring boy costume. The kilt is most common in British weddings, but has been worn in America as well. Many other ethnic or folk costumes have been worn in weddings with a wide variety of ethnic themes.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site religious pages:
[Return to the Ring bearer]
[First Communion] [Victorian wedding]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Bibliographies] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Contributions] [Countries]
[Boys' Clothing Home]