Eton suit

Eton suit

In Brief

Hearing Simon Dedalus talk about his son, Bloom thinks, "If little Rudy had lived. See him grow up. Hear his voice in the house. Walking beside Molly in an Eton suit. My son." This daydream returns as a hallucination at the end of Circe, when "a figure appears slowly, a fairy boy of eleven, a changeling, kidnapped, dressed in an Eton suit with glass shoes and a little bronze helmet." The attire that Bloom envisions was developed at England's prestigious Eton College in the late 19th century and soon became popular in other social settings.

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The Eton suit had a short black jacket and was accompanied by a waistcoat and a large, stiff white collar. By the turn of the century these outfits had spread to many other schools. They were commonly worn to formal gatherings outside of school, and even in casual settings. Families who could not afford the suit often purchased just the collar. Whether or not Bloom imagines his son attending the very expensive and very English boys' school, picturing Rudy dressed in this way says something about his social aspirations.

John Hunt 2023
1917 photograph of a boy, the son of one Sidney Smith, in an Eton suit.