Other Boys' Bows

Figure 1.--This boy, probably about 1875, wears an lace collar and three bows. One for his lace collar, one with his sailor collar, and one placed further down on his sailor blouse. Note that he is wearing some kind of shirt under his blouse or jacket.

Some boys wore bows that are a little difficut to figure out. Perhaps some HBC readers can help determine just what kind of bows are involved. This is sometines the case when more than one bow is involved. HBC will try to describe these rather odd bows, but reader comment and information would be welcomed.

Non-collar Blouse Bows

Multiple bows

Non uncommonly boys wore more than one bow. Boys with three bows though were uncommon. Actually sme boys might wear evebn more bows, especially if there were bows on his pamts or shoes. Even for doteing 19th century moms, however, three bows on the collar/blouse were unusual (figure 1). Two of the bows that this boy wears in a fairly early sailor suit are not uncommon. He wears a small bow with his lace collar. The size of the suggests that this portrait was taken in the 1870s before bows began to reach monster proprtions with mothers trying to outdo each other. The boys second bow is also fairly common, worn at the "V" of his sailor collar. The third bow however is most unusual. Not only because it was a third bow, but because of its palcement. It is located on his sailor collar, well down from the normal location at the "V" collar, but above the hem of the blouse. HBC has no idea why it is located there, other than mom had some bow material handy and wanted to dress her son up especially for the portrait.


A HBC reader asks, "Are the bows really buttons or attaching things such as buttons or ties?" HBC is unsure. They certainly look like bows. But the boy is not wearing a pullover middy blouse. Rather it is a shirt-like blouse which has to be buttoned. Note, however that no buttons are visible. The two bows below the lace collar bows may well be involved in securing the two sides of the blouse. A HBC reader writes, "The two bows below the lace collar bow do seem to be closures keeping the two sides of the sailior top together. I am uncertain how else it would be attached unless there are hidden buttons." HBC is unsure. There may be hidden buttons as just two cvlosures at the top and bottom would seen insufficent for the blouse. If so the two blouse bows would be purely ornamental.


Another unanswered question about these bows is what color are they? It is likely, but not certsain, that the boy's suit is blue. The color of the bows is more fdifficult to ascrrtain. They do not appear to be black. The two lower bows look to be the same color. The lace collar bow, however, looks to be a different color.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: January 31, 2001
Last updated: February 6, 2001