Boys' Neckwear

Figure 1.--Floppy bows were all the rage for American boys in the late-19th century. This mother from Sturgis, Michigan has give each of her boys the same sized bow. Many mothers had larger bows for the younger boys.

We have begun to build several country pages on neckwear. We do not yet have a great deal of country specific information. There seem to have been few neckwear types that were country specificic. The popularity of different styles have, however, varied by country. The huge floppy bow worn in the late 19th century, for example, was especially popular in America. This appears to have been largely stylistic differences affected by each country's historical experience. National wealth may have also been a factor. Religion and culture also affected national difference. Islamic countries, for example, tend to descourage neckties, presumably because it is identified with Western culture. We have begun to build individual country neckwear pages, but only have a few such pages at this time.


American boys in the mid 19th century wore black stocks like their fathers. We do not note American boys wearing destinctive neckwear until after the Civil War. The note boys wearing floppy bows in the 1879s, but they were relatively small. This changed in the 1880s when we begin to see boys wearing increasingly large bows. Some boys seemed almost enveloped by their bows and large collars. The bows were made in a range of colors and patterns. Boys in the 1890s often wore large ruffled and somewhat older boys Eton collars. Some boys wire floppy bows with these collars, but others wore them without bows. Neckties appeared, but were worn by older boys. Floppy bows were still worn in the 1900s, but less commonly and in smller sizes. Neckwear by the 1920s began to become increasinglu standardized with neckties and bowties.


We have very limited information on Canadian boys' neckwear, but have begun to collect some information. As far as we can tell it looks quite similar to American trends. There were differences between American and British neckwear styles. In particular, floppy bows were never as popular in Britain as they were in America. We see quite a few portraits of Canadian boys wearing them. We do not yet have sufficent images to assess chronolgical trends or differenes among English and French speaking Canadians. A HBC reader writes, "This portrait photo of a Canadian boy was taken March 1902. I believe it may be in New Brunswick, as I got bought it from a dealer there. It is a very long and narrow card, measuring: 7 1/8" X 3 5/8" overall." He wears what at the time would have been a modest sized floppy bows. Floppy bows declined in popularity after World war I (1914-18), although some boys woire then for a few more years. Since World War I as far as we can tell, Canadian and American neckwear styles had been very similar.



We have noted French boys commonly wearing bows in the 19th century, but have little so far developed little historical information on this which was a common fashion in America, Britain, and other countries at the time. Neckties appeared in the early 20th century, but were not nearly as widely worn in France as in Britain or even America. One of our French readers reports an aversion to neckties as a boy. One alternative to the necktie is a kind of narow ribbon tied into a bow. I am not sure what the English-language term for this is, but the French call it " un noeud papillon ", literaly " butterfly tie ". They are narrow bow-like lies worn instead of neckties I tend to associate these with the american west in the late 19th century, but perhaps I have seen too many Hollywood Westerns. I am not sure to what extent if any that they were actually wirn in the West during the late 19th century. I have not noted modern American boys wearing them, but French boys did during the 1950s-70s. We note them, for example, advertized in a 1971 La Redoute catalog. They were worn at scome private schools and choirs. We also note another Western looking neckwear style--the string tie. Since the 1940s this has been worn in the American West, but rarely in the East, by both men ans boys. We also note it was adopted at some French schools after World War II. We note a French school wearing string ties, proabably in the 1970s. I'm not sure why these butterfly and string ties caught on in France. Parents may have had sucg difficifulty getting biys to wear ties, that this was an acceptable compromose. Boys fir there part may have seen them in American cowboy films--making them more acceptable. This is, however, just speculation.


We do not have much information on the neckwear German boys have worn. We do not know of any destinctive German neckwear styles. We have noted boys wearing folk costumes with string ties, but we note no destinctive German neckwear styles. The neckwear worn by German boys in indestinguishable from the styles worn in the rest of Europe. We do not yet know have enough information on Germany to know if there was any differences in the conventions and prevalence associated with neckwear in Germany. We see boys in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wearing floppy bows. We do nt know if they were as popular as in the rest of Europe. The same is true as with other neckwear styles.


We note Italian boys as other European boys wearing neckwear during the mid-19th century. Stocks and bows were at first relatively slow but grew in size by the late 19th century. We note a variety of neckwear after the turn of the 20th century, including neckties and bowties. After World war II we see even more batiety of neckwear including string ties of various sorts, some with cloth balls. Notice the colored cloth balls sewn to the necks of these T-shirts. The "T" shirt outfits here are more casual than the garments more commonly used with nevkwear. We also note a kind of cross tie. After the 1960s Italian boys began to wear suits much less than earlier and we dee the decling use of any type of neckwear.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main neckwear page]
[Return to the Main neckwear and sash page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 2:35 AM 8/27/2008
Last updated: 2:35 AM 8/27/2008