United States Cut-away Jackets: Chronology


Figure 1.--Here we see two Brooklyn brithers wearing identical cut-away jackets and voluminous pants. It had a revenue stamp dating it to 1864-66 and was dated 1865. These cut-away jackers had button connections and not just at the collar. They were only cut away to a limited extent. Note the partially rounded bottom treatment.

The cut-away jacket suit was very popular, but for a relatively berief period. We do not yet have a complete chronology of cut-away jackets in the United States. We are unsure as to how widely worn they were in the 1850s. We do not find very many cut-away jackets in Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes we have collected from the 1840s and 50s. We do note one unidentified boy from we believe the late 1850s. We note large numbers of American boys wearing cut-away jackers in early CDVs meaning images as early as 1862. The style was so well established in the early 60s that it surely must have been popular by at least the late-50s. We note cut away jackets still popular in the 1870s. A good example is an unidentified Salem boy. We see far fewer cut-away jackets in the 1880s. And the ones we do see are much less severely cut away. An example is Charlie Wilson, AcNew York boy in 1882. His jacket buttoned up and was only cut away slightly at the very bottom. There was one very prominant exceotion to the decline of the cut-away jacket. It was the cut-away jacket that was used for the classic Fauntleroy suit in the 1880s. We not some boys wearing cut-away jackets in the late-90s, but rarely after the turn-of-the-20th century.

The 1830s

We have not found any evidence of American cut-away jackets from the 1830s. Coomercial photography was essentially invented by Louis Daguerre (1839). As a result there are a small number of Daguerreotypes from 1839 and as far as we know no Amerucan Dags to soeak of. There are, however, paintings from the 1830s. We do not know of any paintings showing American boys wearing cut-away jackets in the 1830s. We think the origins of these jackets is Mudlim styles from the Middle East/North Africa . The French began the conquest of Algeria (1830). This may well have inroduced the cut-away jacket into European fashion as a Zouave jacket. The similsr Bolero jacket appears in Spain about the same time. We are not entirely sure about the origins, but may also hav been North African. The entry to America would have been through Europe which may have been during the 1840s.

The 1840s

We are not yet sure if American boys wore cut-away jackets in the 1840s and if so to what extent. We see numerous Daguerreotypr portraits of boys wearing cut-away jackets. Dags were the primary photographic portrait format during the 1840s. The problem is that they were also taken during the 1850s and even early-60s. And unfortunately very few Dags are actually dated. We believe that the cut-away jacket was worn in the 1840s, it may have even appeared at this time. It must have been a European import. The relative limited number of cut away jackets found in Daguerrotupes suggests that the cut-away jacket was just beginning to become a major style in the 1840s. This however needs to be confirmed. We do not yet have any datedpaintings showing cut-away jackets in the 1840s. This is something we are still working on.

The 1850s

We do not yet have a complete chronology of cut-away jackets in the United States. We are unsure as to how widely worn they were in the 1850s. We do not find very many cut-away jackets in Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes we have collected from the 1840s and 50s. We have found some. One notable feature is wide sleeces. We do think all of the jackets had wide sleeves, but some did. We do note one unidentified boy from we believe the late 1850s. We note two younger brothers in an Ambrotypre wearing ringlet curls and cut-away jackers who seem to have been photographed in the late-1850s, although the early 60s is possible. Another good example is John Van Horn in 1859. Another dag was identified as being from "Concert Hall, Daguerrian Gallery, Stamford, Conn." with blurb. signed GE Wright, Artist. Unfortunalely we have not yet been able to date the studio. We believe it was taken in the 1850s.

The 1860s

The 1860s was a very different matter. The cut-away jacket was no konger a rare site. The cut-away jacket is a style especially assiciated wuth younger boys during the 1860s. They are very commonly represented in the CDVs that appeared in the early 1860s. We note large numbers of American boys wearing cut-away jackers in early CDVs meaning images as early as 1862. It is a very sharp cintrast with the Dauerreotypes and Ambrotypes from the 1850s. The style was so well established in the early 60s that it surely must have been popular by at least the late-50s. It was the most popular suit jacket style for younger boys. The jackets were usually very plain. Some had breast pockets. They were worn with a variety of small collars with and without neckwear. We have no idea about the colors of the jackets at this time. Some were trimmed around the edges. The boys look to be about 5-8, perhaps 10 years old. It was the first suit style boys wore after being breeched. The suits varied as to the extent thecjacket was cut away. Many boys wore these jackets with matching vests. They were worn with a variety of pants, including bloomer knicklers, knee pants, and long pants. Unlike trends in the 1850s, the cut-away jacket commonly had matching trousers. Some boys in the early 60s still had pants that did not match, but matching trousers were much more common.

The 1870s

American boys continued to wear cut-away jacket in the 1870s. We continue to see cut-away jackets still popular in the 1870s, especially the early-70s. A good example is an unidentified Salem boy. Gradually the cut-away jacket style became less dominant. There were not as many as in the 1860s. By the late-70s the cut-away jacket no longer seems to have been a major style. And styles also changed. The cut away jackets in the 60s were desiigned not to button up. Commonly there waa a tab at the collar to connect the two sides, but except for this connection they were worn open. We begin to see jackets in the 1870s which buttoned, but still had cut-away jacket. Gradually the cut-sawy styling became less pronounced. The cut-away jacket in the 1860s was a style for younger boys. Older boys wore jackets that buttoned. In the 1870s we see even younger boys wearing the buttoning jackets rather than cut-away jackets.

The 1880s

We see far fewer cut-away jackets in the 1880s. An example is Harry B. Decker, we think in the mid-1880s. And many of the ones we do see are much less severely cut away. An example is Eddie Wilson, a New York boy in 1882. His jacket buttoned up and was only cut away slightly at the very bottom. There was one very prominant exception to the decline of the cut-away jacket. It was the cut-away velvet jacket that was used for the classic Fauntleroy suit in the 1880s. And unlike other cut-away jackets, they were not worn with vests. The whole idea of the Fauntleroy cut-away jacket was to expose the boy's fancy blouse. Thus we so not see vests and the jackets were smaller than the classic cut-away jackets of the 1860s-70s. Various jackets were worn with Fauntleroy styling, but it was the small cut-away jacket that was worn with the classic Fauntleroy suit. They first appeared in large numbers during the mid-1880s.

The 1890s

We note some boys wearing cut-away jackets in the the 1890s, but mostly as part of Fauntleroy suits. we see this throughout the 1890s. Other than Fauntleroy suits we see very few cut-away Jackets in the photographic record or mail-order catalogs. They are not completely absent, but are much less common than the lapel jackets that had become standard. Unlike Fauntleroy suits, these cut-away jackets are commonly worn with vests, usually matching vests. They are usually worn by younger boys up to about 8 years of age, although we are still working on the chronology. A good exampe is a cabinet card portrait of an unidentified Massachusetts boy, we think about 7-years old. The portrait is undated, but looks to be the early 1890s. In this case he wears a rather long cut-away jacket. We rarely see cut-away after the turn-of-the-20th century except as part of Fauntleroy suits, a style that was also declining.






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Created: 4:51 AM 3/13/2007
Last updated: 3:44 PM 4/21/2017