Blouses are now thought as a woman's shirt, but in fact were originally for both women and children, boys and girls. The garments extending from the neck to the waist, but without shirttails which were not suitable for kilts, especially bodice kilts. Boys dressed in Fauntleroy suits or bodice kilts wore these frilly blouses rather than shirts. A man or big boy's shirt tucks into the trousers, but a blouse has an elastic threaded through the waist or a tape, or a band which buttoned to the pants or kilt. These blouses were often extremely fancy with elaborate lace work at the collar and cuffs. Often department stores had a very wide selection of blouses with various lace trim for a mother to select for her little darling.

Less fancy middy blouses were used with sailor suits. Middy bloses were modeled on the uniform of the British Navy. Authentic ones had three white stripes at the cuff and neck to honor Nelson's three great victories. They were first worn by boys, but graduall middy blouses were also made for girls. This in part expllains the gradual shift to younger and younger boys wearing them. Now only the youngest of boys will be seen wearing a middy blouse, but they are still used as girls' school uniforms in countries like Japan and Korea.

Blouses and shirts have come in a wide range of collars, both fancy and plain. Fancy blouses for boys, however, have long since passed into fashion history. Currently only very small boys wear such blouses for dress occasions and even this is rare. Fancy blouses are also sometimes worn by small boys at formal weddings.

Christopher Wagner

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