One popular style for many years was the Norfolk jacket with pleats/vents and belts. The Norfolk suit also became a very popular style in America. HBC has noted that is was very commonly worn by American boys from about 1880-1930. We note American clothing catalogs with pages offering several different styles of Norfolk jackets. We also note many American photographs showing boys commonly wearing Norfolk jackets. The Norfolk suit appears to have been most popular in Britain and America, but it was worn in many other countries as well. A Polish researcher asks us how we can be sure that the Norfolk jacket was more popular in America and Britain than elsewhere in Europe. Here our primary source of information is available photographic portraits and clothing catalogs. Our access is much greater to American and to a lesser extent British material, so we could be wrong about this and encourage our European readers to add their insights and available information. Many examples of Norfolk suits are archived on HBC. The Norfolk style was primarily worn by school-age boys. We see. however, some younger boys wearing them.
The Norfolk jacket was of course a European style imported from England. This is one of many examples showing how English fashions affected American boys clothing. we also note the Norfolk suit evolving over time. Some early suits had a lingering look of a cut-away jacket. And the first Norfolk look were vertical vents appearing on the jackets. We assume that this must have been a style first appearing in England, but this needs to be confirmed. This occurred before we begin to see the horizonal styling with belts. We are not sure if the same progression ooccurred in Britain as the Norfolk style developed. Our British archive is much more limited. We are not sure what the suits were called in America that had these early hints of Norfolk styling.
Norfolk suits were one of the most popular suit styles for American boys during the late-19th and early-20th century. Many suits during this period were either Norfolk suits or had Norfolk styling elements. We see large numbers of American suits during this period done with Norfolk styling. It was not prescisely a boy's style, but it was particularly popular for boys' suits, especially after the turn-of-the century when it did become essentially a boy's style and especially popular. The Norfolksuit done with knickers was the standard boy's suit in both the 1910s and 20s, but it had begun to decline in popularity by about 1925. They were mostly done with knee pants and even more comonly with knickers. Short and long pznts wre much less common. They wee most worn with dark long stockings. We note large numbers of thdse suits in both cztzlogs and the photographic record. We believe dark blue Norfolk suits were especially popular. We see quite a few worn as First Communion suits at a time when it was sill not very common to buy white suits just for the service.
Norfolk suits consisted of a a jacket with destinctive styling and matching trousers, usually knee pants or knickers. The Norfolk jacket had very destinctive styling. The basic elements were vertical pleats/vents and horizontal belts. The tailored jacket wa a loose belted jacket with a a box pleated front. The belting and pleats could vary widely. Some jackets only had the vents, but some had belts as well. In many suits the vents were only hinted at, in others they were pronounced. We note that by the 1880s in the United States that many jackets had vertical pleats or detailing which we believe in the influence of the Norfolk style which was becoming a major style for boys. We note Norfolk suits with all kinds of pants. The matching pants did not have any of the destinctive Norfolk styling, but were usually knee pants or knickers. Most American boys in the 19th century wore them with knee pants. Hunting suits were wirn with knickers, but as the Norfolk suit became a popular boys' style, that connectionwas broken. There was no real association of the boy's Norfolk suit and any specific type of pants. The pants worn with Norfolk jackets was simply the popular types of pants during the vrious decades in which Norfolk styling was popular.
HBC has noted that is was very commonly worn by American boys for quite an extended peruod. We note Norfolk suits during the 1880s-1930s. We note American clothing catalogs with pages offering several different styles of Norfolk jackets. We also note many American photographs showing boys commonly wearing Norfolk jackets. The style may have appeared in America during the 1870s, but we need to confirm this. We see many boys wearing jackets with Norfolk elements by the 1880s. Inlike many 19th century styles, the Norflk suit continued into the 20th century. A good example of Norfolk suits is the suits worm by twin brothers, probably in the early 1920s.
There are two basic styles of American Norfolk jackets, collar buttoning and lapel sack suit jackets. Both of these tyoes had a wide range of sylistic variations which varied over time as the Norfolk suit remained in style for nearly hakf a century. We see suits with only minor Norfolk styling. Yjis was often seen in the 19th century. The collar-buttoning suits were mostly worn in the 19th century. The lpel suits were worn in both the late-19th and early 20-th centuries. There were quite a range of tylistic vriations for both types of suits. The variations involve both the Norfolk styling and other basic fetures of the suit. This involves both the collars and lapels, sleeves, buttoning arrangements, and other factors. As a result, there was substantial variety in these jackets. Many of these stylistic variations affected other types of suits during each chronological period.
Norfolk suits were popular for about half a century from about the 1880s through the 1920s. Thus they were worn with quite a range of accompany garments that were subject to significant stylidtic changes as fashions changed. Here we are primarily talking about headwear, shirts and blouses (and associated collars), and neckwear. At this time we are unsure about 19th century headwear, but after the turn-of-the 20th century wecsee many boys wearing flat caps with Norfolk suits. Shirts and bloyses are more coomplicated in part because in the 19th century boys wore Norfolk jackets without lapels that buttoned at the collar. Thus we can not see the blouse or shirt/shirt waust they are wearing. We can see large detachable collars like Eton collars that were popular. They were odten worn with floppy bows. After the turn-of-the 20th century we begin to see Norfolk jackets with lapels more commonly. Eton collars were still worn, but soft collars becoming increasingly common. And calong with this trend neckties began replacing floppy bows
The Norfolk suit was conceived in England as a sporting style for the country gentry. The British did not believe in wearing old clothes for hunting. They wore suits, but the Norfolk was a practical suit. The loose fit and pleats of the jacket provided easy movement for outdoor activity. The knicker pants prevented the trousers from getting dirty when trapsing around the country side. Perhaps because of the praxticality, the Norfolk suit became apopular style for boys. We see men wearing Norfolk suits as a kind of sporty side because of its hunting origins. Boys wote Norfolk suits as a major style without the hunting or sporty outdoor connectioins. We nite some upper-class Amerrican adults wearing wearing Norfolk suits for hunting,m but as in Britain it basically bcame a boy's suit style.
The Norfolk suit was primariluy a boys' style, but we see a few girls wearing them. Girls of course normally wore their Norfolk suits with skirts rather than knickers.
The initial Norfolk jackets were made in tweeds as it was cinceived as a rugged outdoor style. This continued to be a popular material. We note Amerixan boys, however, as the Norfolk jacket became increasingly popular wearing Norfolk suits in many other fabrics as well. Girls wearin Norfolk suits might also use tweeds, but we note fine wool being used as well.
Here our primary source of information is available photographic portraits and clothing catalogs. Our access is much greater to American and to a lesser extent British material, so we could be wrong about this and encourage our European readers to add their insights and available information. Many examples of Norfolk suits are archived on HBC.
The Norfolk style was primarily worn by school-age boys. This appers to have been the convention from the time the Norfolk style appeared after the mid-19th entury. Our inutial assessment is that Noirfolk suitswere most common for boys about 8-15 years of age. This is just an initial assesment but most of the images we ahve archived so far falls into that range. We hope to develop our age assessment more preciseky as HBC expands. We do see see some younger boys wearing them. This often meant adding a large collar and floppy bow. A good example is Floyd Van Horne about 1915. He looks to be about 5-6 years old. The Norfolk suit was a style for school age boys. Younger boys wore skirted garments and fancy suits like Fauntleroy suits. The Norfolk style was also worn by teenagers, specially younger teens. This varied over time. We see some older teenagers wearing Norfolk suits in the 1910s. The same was ture of the 1920s, but somehgat younger teens. A good example is 14-year old Raymond Uferte in 1921. A factor here is that Norfolk suits were commonly done as knee pnets or knicker suits which affected the age range of the boys wearing them.
Boys in the 19th century and early 20th century more commonly wore suits than moden boys. Thus we not only see boys wearing these suits when dressing up for church and other formal occassiins, but for school as well. We even see boys wearing the suits casually. A good example is a boy on a camping trip about 1915.
The Norfolk suit appears to have been most popular in Britain and America, but it was worn in many other countries as well. A Polish researcher asks us how we can be sure that the Norfolk jacket was more popular in America and Britain than elsewhere in Europe.
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