Peter Pan Collars: A Short (…Surprising!) History

Jen has recently fallen deeply in love with all things peter-pan collar – a style that’s been around since… well, since the Quakers, really. So, that could take them as far back as the 1640’s! But really, they weren’t considered en vogue until the late 19th century, when the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit became popular with, uh, little boys?

“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.”

Cue little boy fashion uproar. The 1890s were all about lace collars on your little brother.

Cute, right? 

But come 1900, ladies would get to enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of rounded-corner collars thanks to a novel published by Colette in 1900, Claudine à l’École, or Claudia at School (which was a coming-of-age story about a girl exploring her sexuality…!) where the main character’s school uniform included these collars. Cue French lady fashion explosion, and a new name for this collar – le col Claudine. (A film of the novel was created in 1937, and a few times afterward.)

A couple of saucy promo posters from the 1937 film, Claudine à l’École.

So, le col Claudine was super hot in Paris. Meanwhile, a guy named John Alexander White and his wife, who resided there, decided to uproot and head over to the US of A in 1901 – one year after the fashion world got their hands on the collar.

Dude and his wife would then to go on to assist a gal named Maude Adams in creating a theatrical costume for a production that Maude was about to star in… called Peter Pan. (Who knew there would be so many subversive women behind such a childlike fashion symbol?)

After that, they were in Buster Brown comics, and came in and out and in and out of fashion until the end of time. Now, in 2012, they’re back and all over the damn place. I see them mostly on dresses…

…and hipsters.

Are you into the collar craze?