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Bows: Social Class

Figure 1.--This American boy in a photograph taken about 1890 wears an elaborate lace trimmed Fauntleroy blouse with an elegant white collar bow. Note that he also has small black bows at the hem of his kneepants. Also notice the white buttons at the hem of the pants. Most knee pants had only three, usually dark buttons.

The use of ribbons and bows began with nobility and the upper-classes. It was a symbol of wealth. This was almost by definition. They were done with satin/silk -- luxurious and thus exopensive fabrics. Only the the well-todo could afford them. There was, however a growth of the middle-class in the 19th centuery as part of the Industrial Revolution. An agricultural country did not need a large moddle class, but an industrial country did. It needed rechnicians, ebngineers, and scientists as well as clerks, teachers, and bankers. This generated a huge and well-heeled middle class. In addition, an educated industrial work force was more productive thasn an uneducated rural work force. Increasing productivity meabn thzat workers could be paid more and enjoying small luxuries themselves. And industrial efficencies brought down the cost of clothing, meaning far more peopke could afford fashionable clothing for themselves and their children. The wealth was not equally shared, but never before in histoty had so many people enjoyed such afflence. And this was especially true in America which is why Europeans migrated to the United States in the millions.


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Created: 9:25 PM 10/2/2022
Last updated: 9:25 PM 10/2/2022