For what it's worth, here is what a couple of generations of etiquette books have said about the "proper" "traditional" ring-bearer's costume:
The 1960s: Elizabeth L. Post, Emily Post's Etiquette, (Funk and Wagnall's, 1969, New York [12 ed]), p. 378. '...Pages may be dressed in quaint old-fashioned...suits of white silk or satin of whatever period the bride fancies. Or perhaps they are
dressed in ordinary white clothes with...white boutonnieres.'
'Ring bearers and train bearers are most often dressed in white suits,
preferably with short pants.'
'Tiny boys and Girls wear slippers with a strap and white socks. If
they are dressed in white, their slippers are white, but if they wear
color, their slippers are colored, either to match their clothes or of
black patent leather or a contrasting color--more often the latter.'
The 1960s: Amy Vanderbilt, Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette, (Doubleday & Company: Garden City, N.J., 1963), pp. 77-78. Flowe girls, dressed in picture-book style, are more often seen in formal weddings than page boys and ring bearers, possibly because little girls are amenable to "dressing up." Little boys tend to think their manhood impugned by frilly blouses and satin knee breeches or long , tight velvet trousers of the Dickens era. A page boy or ring bearer might wear a dark blue Eton suit or, if a summer wedding, a white linnen suit with short or long trousers.
The 1970s: McCall's Magazine, McCall's engagement and wedding guide, (Saturday Review Press, 1972, New York), pp. 64, 73.
'The ring bearer is between the ages of four and seven.'
'Train bearers or pages...are boys between the ages of five and eight or slightly older.' 'The ring bearer's costume usually is a white suit with short pants or short white pants worn with a ruffled white blouse,
a colored sash, socks
and strapped patent leather shoes which may be either black or white. Page boys, though slightly older, are generally dressed like the ring bearer.'
The 1970s: Flora F. T. Bryant and Kendall S. Bryant, It's Your Wedding, (Cowels Book Co., Inc., 1970, New York), p.?. 'The ring bearer should wear a white suit, one he could wear to a party
where he might meet a magician with real live rabbits in his hat. He may wear white socks and either black or white patent leather shoes with straps....'
The 1990s: An aunt asked a fashion consultant asked about
wedding attire. My nephew is going to be ringbearer, but I am not sure I want him to
wear a tuxedo at the wedding. What are some other suggestions for
apparel for a ringbearer?
For very small boys, a white Eton jacket with short pants is a traditional choice. When they are a little older they may wear a
navy-blue suit instead. Much depends on the degree of formality of
your wedding and the boy's age. Your bridal salon consultant or
formalwear consultant may have other suggestions, or you may be able
to find a boutique specializing in children's "formal" fashions. We think that little boys look quite endearing in miniature versions of the men's formalwear, but it's a matter of personal taste.
The 1990sWhat do you think for the ringbearers' outfits: a mini-version of what the men will be wearing ($100 each to rent, but adorable) or vests and bowties made out of the same brocade as the female attendants'
outfits, with an ivory shirt and grey dress pants? Do you think that color combination will go together?
Do what you can afford. All the options sound fine. Ivory and grey are a classic color combination, so don't be afraid of that option if that's what you would prefer.
The 1990s: Letitia Baldrige, Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the new Manners for the 90's, (Rawson Associates, 1990, New York), p. 271. 'The ring-bearer...[dresses] in satin or velvet shorts (or even knickers with white knee socks) and a silk shirt with a
Peter Pan collar.... An option to having a ring-bearer is one or two little boy _pages_. (If possible, all the children should wear black patent leather or white Mary Jane shoes and white socks.)'
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