Little Lord Fauntleroy Suits: Classic Period Styling (1885-95)

Figure 1.--.

Fauntleroy suit styles varied considerably with a great variery of patterns available to the discerning, fashion conscious mother. As most available photographs only show the front of the jacket, we mostly know about the back from designs published on The Delineator and other publications. Jackets were often shaped at the back with a curving center seam. Many jackets had side pockets at the front and were closed at the front with button-holes and buttons. Some were designed not to be closed to better show elaborately lace trimed blouses. Some jacket had slits cut at the back.

Fauntleroy suits were made in many colors and materials and with a variety of features and embelishments.

Figure 2.--This American from Boston wears a classic Fauntleroy suit. Note the small jacket and large lace collar. He wears his suit with a large colored bow.


The classic Fauntleroy suit was black or dark blue. Later other dark colors appeared like burgandy or forrest green. We know suits were made in these colors because many wealthy families had portraits painted. Also fashion magazines during the period noted these colors, notably the velvet suits were usually dark colors. The suits done in satin, however, were usually lighter colors.

Color is an interesting topic. We know that Fautleroy suits were made in black and the above noted dark colored velvets. What is not known, however, is the relative popularity of the different colors. I had assumed that the black suits were the primary colors. This is probably because I was viewing the photographic record which was, of course, all black and white photography. I know of no historical works discussing this question. Available sources of information at this time provide the following information on color:
The 1880s: A painting by Millais on loan during 1998 to a London Museum shows Master Robert Rankin who looks to be about 10 or 11 years in an elaborate forrest green velvet Fautleroy suit with lace collar and cuffs, long uncvurled hair, and a beret-like cap.
The 1890s: A 1896 Sargent portrait shows an American family, Mrs. Carl Meyer and her children, with the boy wearing a grey Fauntleroy suit.


Fauntleroy suits were primarily velvet suits. Some fancy suits were made of satin, but these were much less common than the velvet suits. The bettere suits were usually lined with silk and worn with cambric blouses. Other less expensive suits were made for mothers of more modest means from serge, flannel, and a variety of other cloths. Most of these materials are solid colors, but Fauntleroy suits were also made of patterned material. Many of the patterned fabrics appear to be lighter weight materials for summer wear.


The suits at first had pants or trousers cut at or below the knee. The most common style had pants which reached a little below the knees.

Figure 4.--Fauntleroy suits were also worn with bodice skirts and Scotch plaid kilts like these brothers. Note the large lace-trimed blouses covering much of the velvet jacket.
Often closing was made at the sides near the hem of the pants with button-holes and buttons. Usually there were three buttons near the hem of the touse leg. Some pants had more prominent buttons.

The trousers were attached to the blouse by means of buttons and button-holes to a cambric shirt-waist or blouse. Some fancy suits had bows at the closure.


Some boys were dressed in a typical Fautleroy jacket and lace collar, but with a kilt or frock instead of kneepants. The kilt was rarely a Scottish plaid, but made of the same material as the jacket. This fashion gave the apearance of a dress rather than a Scottish kilt. The Fauntleroy suit dress/kilt was particularly popular in the 1880s and early 1890s, but declined as the new century approached and the fashion of dressing small boys in dresses wained.

The skirted Fauntleroy suits were generally for the younger boys. Some particularly doting mothers, however, decided to dress their older boys in a kilted Fautleroy suit, consisting of a lacey blouse and collar, and velvet jacket, just like the traditional Fauntleroy suit. The only difference was a kilt instead of kneepants. In such instances, the outfit of the older boy would generally be a plaid kilt looking like an actual Scottish kilt rather than the solid color kilt suits worn by the younger boys. Apparently, it was more acceptable for an older boy to wear an actual Scottish kilt than the more juvenile kilt suits where the jacket and skirt were made of the same material.


The classic Fauntleroy suit had several distinguishing features:
Lace collar: The most distinguishing fearture of any Fauntleroy suit was the elaborate lace collared blouse. As many Fauntleroy suits

Figure 5.--These three brothers, despite the differences in ages, wear identical Fauntleroy suits with black stockings. Note the buttons at the hem of the knee pants.
had abreviated jackets. These short jackets were meant to be worn unclosed, so the elaborate lacey blouse would be best displayed. The focal point of course were the elaborate lace collars. However this would be visible even if the jacket was closed, the collar would be visible. An open jacket , however, showed thevruffles and lace at the front or even at the boys' waist. A sailor-collar mounted on a band at the neck dominated most Fautleroy blouses or shirt waists (shirts without tails) as they were called at the time. Buttons would be sewn to a belt around the blouse at the waist to attach the pants. The collar and wrist trim of the blouses were designed to roll over the neck and wrists of the jacket.
Other lace trimFauntleroy suits were worn with blouses that had had matching lace trim at the cuffs. The sleeves were finished with wristbands that had deep, usually round lace-trimmed cuffs. The lace and ruffles at the collar and cuffs could be of Irish point or point de Gene embroidery or Hamburg edging. Some suits had ruffled cuffs extenduing up the arm to the elbow.

Some of the early suits also had lace at the hem of the knee length pants, but this was relatively rare.

Figure 5.--This little American boy (San Francisco) wears a classic Fauntleroy suit. It appears to be a colored suit. Notice how the lace cuffs reach the elbow. The kneepantsvappear to have a cuff and buttonss run quite high up the leg. The large bow has an elaborate pattern.


Many Fauntleroy suits had extensuve embroidery. This is often difficult to see in most of the available phorographs.

Fauntleroy Related Pages:
Returnt to main[Fauntleroy page]
[Edwardian Fauntleroy suits] [Final Fauntleroy period] [Fauntleroy dresses] [Lace collars] [Vivian Benett] [Fauntleroy patterns]

Other Related Pages:
[Dresses] [Kilts] [Smocks] [Pinafores] [Sailor Hats] [Blouses]
[Ring Bearers] [Long hair] [Ringklet curls] [Hair bows] [Bangs] [Collars] [Bows]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to clothing styles]
[Introduction] [Chronology] [Biographies] [Bibliographies] [Activities] [Countries] [Contributions]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: November 27, 1998
Last updated: August 15, 1998