United States Boys' Cap Styles: Tam/Tam O'Shanter


Figure 1.--This American boy wears a dark tam with a velvet tunic suit. It is undated, but we would guess was taken about 1905.

Tams are Tan O'Shanters were similar to berets, but larger and more floppy. We see tams made in different sizes and styles. Some were quite large, but most seem to have been more moderately sized. We don't see very many American boys wearing them and a best we can tell the tam has never been extensively worn by American boys. They were more popular with girls. We do, however, see some younger boys wearing them with a variety of different outfits. There was no one single outfit they were associated with. We see boys to about age 7-8 years wearing them. They were most common in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. HBC has noted a few old studio portraits from the late 19th century of American boys wearing tams, generally with kilt suits or Fauntleroy suits. A good example is a San Jose boy about 1905. Tams were not the principal headwear for either outfit, but they were worn. We note Percy Brown who has just been breeched wearing a tam with his new sailor suit in 1891. Another example is an unidentified boy wearing a Fauntleroy suit about 1890. Tams were not commonly worn with sailor suits, but this boy just got his sailor suit. The sailor suit was so commonly worn that we see boys wearing a range of caps with it besides just sailor caps. We also note a few portraits taken in the early 20th century. The unidentified portrait here is an example (figure 1). Tams were made in different colors, but the black and white photography of the day provides very few hints as to color.

Description

Tams are Tan O'Shanters were similar to berets, but larger and more floppy. We see tams made in different sizes and styles. Some were kind of shaped with stays going out. Other were just rounded without any distinctive shape. Some tams were done with tassels. Tams and berets are not prececisly caps because there is no brim. We have tended, however, to place them in the cap section for simplicity of organization

Sizes

Tams vsaried quite a bit in size. Some were quite large, but most seem to have been more moderately sized. The size varied over time.

Popularity

We don't see very many American boys wearing them and a best we can tell the tam has never been extensively worn by American boys. We do, however, see some younger boys wearing them with a variety of different outfits.

Gender

Tams were much more popular with girls than boys. Only younger American boys wore tams and berets. We see many more American girls wearing them. Interestingly French girls did not wear berets, although we are less sure about tams. Tams were very popular with American girls. And we see girls of all ages wearing them, including teenagers. Age conventions varied over time. We are not sure when girlks began eearing tams, probablythe 1890s. They seem most popular in the 1910s and 20s. We are also not sure about the colors, but most seem to hsave been dark colors, oprobably navy blue or black. We are sure about the wearing conventions. I am not sure they were the choice when dressing up. They were widely worn to school.

Accompanying Clothing

There was no one single outfit with which tams were associated. We see boys wearing tams with a variety of different outfits. The tams that boys wore were generally with kilt suits or Fauntleroy suits. We see more boys wearing tams with these outfits than any other outfit. A good example is a San Jose boy about 1905. Tams were not the principal headwear for either outfit, but they were worn. We note Percy Brown who has just been breeched wearing a tam with his new sailor suit in 1891. Another example is an unidentified boy wearing a Fauntleroy suit about 1890. Tams were not commonly worn with sailor suits, but this boy just got his sailor suit. The sailor suit was so commonly worn that we see boys wearing a range of caps with it besides just sailor caps. We also note a few portraits taken in the early 20th century. The unidentified boy in the portrait here is an example (figure 1).

Age

Tams were not very common for boys, but we do see some boys weaing them--mostly younger boys. We see boys to about age 7-8 years wearing them.

Chronology

They were most common in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. HBC has noted a few old studio portraits from the late 19th century of American boys wearing tams. We note an unidentified New Jersey boy wearing a Tam in the 1870s.

Colors

Tams were made in different colors, but the black and white photography of the day provides very few hints as to color. All of the examples we have noted to date were dark colors.






HBC





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Created: 10:38 PM 7/18/2007
Last updated: 10:11 PM 3/13/2010