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United States Cut-away Jackets: Vests/Westcoats

boys's vests
Figure 1.--This CDV portrait is undated. We would guess it was taken in the 1870s. The boy is unidentified, but we do know that the portrait was taken at the John B. Heffner in Frankfort, Kentucky. Unusually, the boy here has opened his vest. We are not sure what kind of cap he is wearing. He looks to be about 9-10 years old.

The cut-away jacket suit was worn with and without vests and with a variety of blouses, both plain and fancy blouses. We do not see the fancy vests that appeared later that were important to display. Generally the cut-away jacket was worn by younger boys. We tend to see vests being worn by the older boys in the age range wearing cut-away jackets. We do not yet have a fix on just how common it was to wear vests. We note boys with and without the vests. A good example of a vested cut-way jacket suit are two brothers wearing mathing suits about 1870. This was a period when the blouse was not all that important. Collars cout be tiny and the frint was unadorned. Thus covering the blouse was not an issue. which it became wuth the adventb iof the Fasuntleroy era (1880s). Here seasonality may have been a factor. Most portraits were not dated, but color and fabrics are often suggesive. We see large numbers of boys both with and without the vests. We have just begun to collect information on these vests. We do not yet have information on the styling of these vests. Unlike the vests we see at mid-century, the ones we see by the 1860s seem to mostly match the suit and pants.


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Created: 11:57 PM 3/3/2008
Last updated: 8:55 AM 10/19/2022