Little Lord Fauntleroy Collars: Definition

Figure 1.--This unidentified American boy was photographed by the Frank Lawrence studio in Worcester, Massachusetts. The portrait was probably taken in the 1890s. His Fauntleroy collar was a lace collar done in the Van Dyke style.

The Fauntleroy collar and Fauntleroy style in general is a literary creation. Mrs. Burnett who wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy was influenced by popular French fashions when she lived in France for a period. This was probably more important than the Van Dyke influence, at least to Mrs. Burnett as she created the outfits for her two sons, Vivian and Lionel. The problem is that Mrs. Burnett did not really provide a detailed description of Cedric's outfit after he arrived in England. All she wrote was, "What the Earl saw was a graceful childish figure in a black velvet suit, with a lace collar, and with lovelocks waving about the handsome, manly little face, whose eyes met his with a look of innocent good fellowship." So she did mean for the Fauntleroy collar to be a lace collar, but there is no further description. The image of Cedric's clothing is more due to the influence of Reginald Birch who illustrated the first editions of Mrs. Burnett's book. And his illustrations seem more influenced by famed artist Anthony Van Dyke than Mrs Burnett. So as Mrs. Burnett herself did not provide a detailed definition or even a detailed description, we are left to create a definition ourselves. And we believe that the best approach is to create a definition based on what American mothers chose to go with the Fauntleroy suits they bought for their sons. We specify American mothers because it was in America that the style became most popular, although in the book, Cedric is outfitted in his famed suit after he reached England. We would define the Fauntleroy suit as the large formal collars worn by younger boys both with velvet Fauntleroy suits and regular suits. They were widely varied. They varied in size, but some were very large almost engulfing the boy. There were two basic styles. One was the pin on collar which were normally done in lace and often in the Van Dyke style. The other was attached to Fauntleroy blouses. These were the especially large and normally ruffled rather than lace collars, although often with some lace trim. The cuffs of these blouses also repeated the collar styling.


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Created: 5:51 AM 7/31/2010
Spell checked: 4:47 AM 8/1/2010
Last updated: 4:47 AM 8/1/2010