Collars on Boys' Shirts: Country Trends

Figure 1.--This unidentified Americn boy wears a summer double-brested suit with a large ruffle collar. Note the lace trim. He looks to be about 7-8 years old. Mother has not added a floppy bow. The portrait is undated, but the boy's clothing and the mount suggst the 1890s. The studio information is too difficult to read.

The collar is the modern fashion element growing out of the medival chemise. This of course was before the develoment of dedicated juvenile styles. We have done considerable work on the collar in children's fashions. We have begun to collect individual country pages describing country trends. So far we have pages on America, England, France, and Germany. There are of course many similarities. The basic types and styles of collars were much the same in different countries. We do notice some destinctive national features. Some styles are especially associated with specific countries. England seems especially important in the developent of mny boys' collar stles, the most prominently the Eton and sailor collar, both styles were important for decades. America helped populasrize the Fauntleroy collar, but this was of much shorter duration. The Shiller collar, a kind of sports collar was popular in Germany.


Collars are one of the most prevalent shirt features. We do not much have much information on the early 19th century. Collars on boys' shirts tended to be very small in the mid-19th century. A good example is the Wallis brothers in 1852. Collars increased in size by the late 19th century. There were different types of collars, most prominantly attached and detachable collars. There were also various collar styles. Younger boys in the late-19th century might wear lace collars. We also note plainer Eton and Peter Pan collars, although that term was not yet used. By the turn of the 20th century, ruffled collars becamme more common. A good example here is a boy in Washington, Pennsylvania about 1905. Many school age boys in the late 19th and early 20th century wore Eton collars when dressing up. By the 1950s preppy styles were popular, Many boys wore shirts with button-down collars. Collarless "T" shirts became increasing popular in the latter patof the 20th century. One reader writes in 2006, "I have great difficulty getting my son who is in 5th grade to dress up. He doesn't even like collared shirts and insists on wearing T-shirts to school because of peer presure. He tells me, 'Mom the other guys don't wear those shirts."


The collar is most associate with shirt-like garments (shirts, bloses,shirt-waists ect.), but are optionally found on many other garments (dresses, smocks, tunics, coats, and other garments), The collar fastens around or frames the neck. There are other fashion elements associated with the neck, such as revers and lapels. The destinguishing feature of the collar is usually being fashined from a separate piece of fabric, rather than a folded or cut part of the same piece of fabric used for the main body of the garment. This is especially true of suit lapls. The modern collar evolved from the ruffle created by the drawstring at the neck of the medieval chemise--a standard garment and not surprisingly, a shirt-like garment. It evolved into the Elizabethan ruff and and successors like the whisk collar and falling band. We do not notce any specically child styles Perhas the earliest was the Eton collar. At the same time se see opwn, fancy collars, but men as well as boys wore them. Various collars were worn with the skeleton suit. Collars at mid-century tended to be very small (1840s-60s). The Royal Family introduced the sailor collar as a boys' style (1840s) which girls soon copied for their own. Then we begin to see somewhat larger collars (1870s) With the Fauntleroy Craze we see an explosion of collar sizes (1880s). We do not see boys commonly wearing decicated collar styles until the late-19th entry. They were destinguisable from adult coolars by both size and fancy construction. There are both types and styles of collars. The different type are done in the same styles. The principal collar types are attached and detacable. Separate or detachable collars have exist along with attached collars (since the mid-16th century). This permitted starching and a range of other fine finishing. The attached collars are by far the most common. They are for the most part permanently stiched to the main body of the garment. Detachable collars appeared at the end of the medieval era, but the modern detachable collar appeared in the mid-19th century, an American innovation. Detachable collars want out of style after World War I as more informal styles became popular and home laundry methods improved. Gradually after World War I, boys' and men's styles began to merge, although this took several decades.


French boys wore quite a range of different collars. Collars were part of the shirt and stylistically usually the most important element. This was especially the case in the 19th century when men and boys commonly wore suit jackets and vests which covered up the shirts. Often the only part of a blouse or shirt that could be seem was the collar. They often determined the style of the shirt or blouse. Other collars were detachable. There were quite a range of different styles. French boys wore Eton collars, but not as commonly as in England. Lace and ruffled collars were worn with formal outfits like Fauntleroy suits. Some of the ruffled collars were huge. We also note Peter Pan collars, but believe this collar was more common on blouses as well as other garments like rompers and smocks. For many years one of the most popular collars was the sailor collar. Modern collars are pointed collars, size has varied over time. As oart of the increasingly casual life style, many boys wear collarless shitrs.


We note German boys wearing the same basic shirt styles as worn by boys in other European countries. We do not know of any destinctive German shirt styles. The main variation is that some styles were more or less popular in Germany than other styles. We notice a variety of detachable collars. These detachable collars were worn with what were called shirt waists--essentially shirts without collars. Shirt waists appeared in the mid-19th century and were widely worn through thde early 20th century. We notice both pointed and rounded collr styles of dofferent shapes and withs. Thwy were generally worn with neckwear of various desriptions. The Eton was not nearly as popular as in England. I'm not sure why. We notice sailor middy blouses with a wide variety of collar styles. Other countries also had middy blouses in non-traditional styles, but there appears to have been an especially large variety of collar styles. As there was np shirt tails, the middy blouse as the name implies was a blouse. We mention it here because it was such an importan style of shirt-like garment. >Many boys after World War I wore a style of wide, open collars. The style in fact appeared during the 1910s, but was mych morecwidely worn in the 1920s. It was not only worn for casual wear, but someboys wore it with their suit as well when dressing up. we note here both collar styles and shirts notable for the collar style.


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Created: 10:44 PM 6/12/2016
Last updated: 10:44 PM 6/12/2016