Boys' Cut-away Suit Jackets: Terminology

Figure 1.--

We believe the best term for these jackets is "cut-away". I do not know if this term was used at the time they were popular, the 1850s-80s. Or if so how commonly. Some period sources seem to have called it a "Zouave" jacket, at least the ones with Zouave styling. We have seen it used since. A modern term is "bolero" jacket. It is often used for girls' outfits. The two terms we believe describe essentially the same garment. HBC likes to get to the lowest common denominator so to speak--the generic term. This often means creating a single term for consistency throughoutb HBC, even though there was no such accepted term at the time. The way to do this is to use a term describing the garment physically. I think cut-away jacket is a good basic description for all the different types such as Zouave and Fauntleroy as well as the plain, unadorned jackets of the 1860s. Zouave may have been the first such jacket, but that does not mean that this should be the generic term used. HBC is always interested to know why the itemns were called in period catalogs and fashion magazines, but we can not always use that because period writers were very often not careful about terminology. Thus for manyb garments we see specufic fashion authors or catalogs using a term which may or may not have been used by other writers. A HBC contributor writes, "What you call a cut-away jacket I call a Zouave-style jacket. I do this because I feel sure the inspired by the Zouave uniform. In the 1860s there were also similar jackets for women called zouave uniform. We see women wearing jackets with very obvious Zouave styling. HBC is right, many boys wore very plain jackets. In a way I am unhappy to call these jackets cut-away jackets as well as Zouave-style jackets. I think "cut-away jacket" does not describe the Zouave part properly and the term "Zouave style" gets a problem when the jackets get less fancier and as time goes on. The jacket of a fauntleroy is surely not a Zouave style jacket. The trtminology here is difficult."


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Created: 6:15 AM 2/6/2008
Last updated: 6:15 AM 2/6/2008