*** decorative items neckwear and sashes

Boyswear Decorative Items

Figure 1.--This American boys wears a necktie for a portrait, but we are unsure about the date--perhaps the 1950s.

While most clothes are decorative to some extent, they also have practical purposes as well. Some of the few purely decorative items are neckwear and sashes. Neckwear was of cpurse much more common than sashes, but we note some boys wearing sashes, mostly in the 19th century.

Belt Buckles

Fancy belt buckles were made for boys. Perhaps the best known are Hitler Youth and Scout buckles. My Cub and Scout buckles were plain brass, but I think they were fancy ones.


Bows were best known as neckwear, but were not always worn as neckwear. Bows became enormously popular in the later half of the 19th Century. Bows are most associated of course with girls' clothing and hairstyles. Generally the largest, most prominent bows were used for girls. Bows were, however, also extensively used on boys, especially during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century as mother's sought to add a little flair to their sons' outfits. The largest and most prominent bows were collar bows used with boys Fauntleroys suits, some almost dwarfing the boy involved. Given the ingenuity of doting mothers, a wide variety of bows were also used with many other fashions, from shoulder ties on dresses for boys before breeching to decorative shoe bows.


One decorative item is the crests or coats of arms on blasers and caps. Sometimes they are also on sweaters, but not very commonly. sweaters. Here we are primarily talking about school crests. Blazer and cap badges are another item primarily associated with English and British schools in general. Most schools in England have adopted a badge in order to distinguish themselves from other schools. The badges may be seen on notice boards in front of schools, at various locations within schools, and on stationery, including, quite often, pupils' exercise books. They have also been displayed on items of school uniform: on blazers and school caps and, less frequently, on pullovers or ties. In those few schools where a straw boater has been worn, the badge has sometimes (but not always) been displayed on the ribbon hatband.


Feathers have been used as decorative items. They were a major fashion item in the late 19th and early 20th century. There were so in demand that the hunt for popular species to the verge of extinction. This was almost entirely for women who liked to decorate their hats with feathers. They were not commonly used in boys' fashions. There are some exceptions. Here perhaps the best example are the eagle feather worn with Highland outfits. I think, however, this was susposed to be just the Laird and not boys. Of course for Highland outfits, mum did not always follow the rules. An example is an English boy we noted in the early 20th century. Of course Native Americans also used father for decoration. on caps?


We notice several Europeab cuntries in which boys had suit jackers with frogging. We also notice American boys with with suit jackets decorated with froggung. We cannot yet assess relative prevslence because our archives vary grearly in size.

Garter Flashes

Garter flashes were worn with knee socks. The garter itself was a utilitarian item to keep kneesocks up. The flashes were the decorative item. We only notice them being worn by Cubs and Scouts. English Cubs wore green flashes and Scouts red flashes. They were not normally worn with school uniforms.

Lanyards and Whistles

Lanyards and whistles were used as decorative items on sailor suits. The whistles were popular items with the boys, somewhat less popular with mums. Not all sailor suits had lanyards and whistles, but quitea few of the better quakity suits had them. They seem especially popular in Britain. We see them less commonly in Germany. Lanyards -with or without a whistle- were of course not only worn with sailor suits. They were -- and in some instances still are - an inegral part of the uniform of a number of youth movements. A Dutch reader tells us, "I wore them as a patrol leader with the boy scouts and note that the were wirn by many other youth movements, including Chiro, the Hithler Youth, KSA, and VNJ."


Maybe brand logos on shirts (such as the Izod alligator or the R. Lauren polo player) might be considered a decorative item. I'm not sure this is the best place for this, but cannot think of a better place at this time.


We have noted acwide variety of boys' neckwear. Neckwrear was not common in the early 19th century. Many boys had open collars. Stocks became common in the mid-19th cetury while bows, sometimes quite large, became popular in the late 19th century. A much wider diversity of neckwear was worn in the first half of the 20th century, but by the late 20th century, neckwear became lessand less common.


A pom or Pom-pon / pompom decorative ball, kind of an elaborate tassel. We see them neing used on shotys and kneesocks in Germanmy during the early-20th century. They were also popular in France. We see them less in America. They were very commonly worn on stocking caps in many countries. A good example is the Bennett children in the 1910s.


A sash is a long band or scarf, usually made of silk, satin, or other fancy material. It is worn over the waist or shoulder. Military officers often wear shoulder or waist sashes as part of a formal military uniform. Waist sashes have been worn by women or children, both girls and boys, for ornament on formal clothes. Waist sashes were worn with Fauntleroy suits, dresses, and other outfits. They came in different materials and colors and worn with or weithout end tassles or edgeing. They were also worn at varying length and tied with different knots. Shoulder sashes are worn by boys wearing Scottish and Irish kilts for formal occasions and for participating in Higland and Irish dancing sashes varied substanitally.


A tassel is a penddent or hanging ornament for clothing. It is worn with a wide range of clothing including caps, sweaters, and socks. Also used with infant wear garments. Tasseles are als used as a kind of neckwear. The tassles themselves are a bunched grouping of threads, cords, or other fibers and normally done in a kind of roundish knob. We are not sure when tassels were dirst used. The word tassel appeared in Old English about 1250-1300 from an Old French word. There were Latin roots, but apprently with different meanings. Here we are not sure.


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Created: April 21, 2001
Last updated: 10:51 AM 4/29/2005