Belgian Boys Clothes: Garments--Headwear


Figure 1.--This Belgian New Years post card is undated, but probably was made in the 1930s. It shows a boy wearing a beret in the winter. A HBC reader thought the child was a girl, but Belgian girls in the 1920s and 30s did not wear short pants. Notice how he is wearing his beret. A French reader tells us that this could have just as easily been a photograph taken in France, but thinks it a more 1930s look. Also notice how the beret is being worn.

HBC has only begun to collect information on Belgian boys headwear. Hopefully our Belgian readers will provide some more detailed information. Fashionable boys at the mid-19th century often wore military styled peaked caps. The headwear most associated with Belgian boys is probably the beret also worn by French boys. I think it was more commonly worn by French than Dutch speaking Belgian boys. After World War II, however, the beret was no longer commonly worn by Belgian boys. In America the beret is more associated with girls than boys. This was not the case in Belgium, France, and Spain where the beret was worn by men and boys and not girls. Boys in the late 19th and early 20th century commonly wore sailor hats and caps. Although Belgium had virtually no navy, sailor hats and caps along with sailor suits were as commonly worn in Belgium as in neighboring Netherlands, Germany, and France where they were also very popular. The beret was primarily a boys' garment. We are unsure to what extent girls may have worn them. The image here suggests that boys pulled their berets over their ears in the winter.

Chronolgical Trends

Fashionable boys at the mid-19th century often wore military styled peaked caps. The headwear most associated with Belgian boys is probably the beret also worn by French boys. I think it was more commonly worn by French than Dutch speaking Belgian boys. After World War II, however, the beret was no longer commonly worn by Belgian boys. In America the beret is more associated with girls than boys. This was not the case in Belgium, France, and Spain where the beret was worn by men and boys and not girls. Boys in the late 19th and early 20th century commonly wore sailor hats and caps. Although Belgium had virtually no navy, sailor hats and caps along with sailor suits were as commonly worn in Belgium as in neighboring Netherlands, Germany, and France where they were also very popular. The beret was primarily a boys' garment. We are unsure to what extent girls may have worn them. The image here suggests that boys pulled their berets over their ears in the winter. Headwear in modern Belgium is today much less common than in the past.

Image

This image is of course a postcard. It was a posed study and not a realistic actual photograph. It is, however, not as unrealistic as it may seem to modern readers. Some HBC readers commented that this child is a girl and not a boy. A French reader tells us, "I am absolutely sure that the child pictured here is a boy (figure 1). It was the standard and ordinary popular fashion in France and Belgium after 1920s even on cold doys for boys to wear short pants. They would of course dress warmly on cold days, such as the boy here. They would put on their berets and wear a heavy sweater, short coat, or a pelerine with a scarf. Their short pants were often wool or corduroy garments. This his post card looks to be from the 1930s and girls at the time wore dresses. It is perhaps surprising today seeing a boy wearing short pants in winter, but this was not at all surprising at the times. Mothers always sawthat the boys wore warm hats and that the upper body was well protected such as the swrater here. Also kneesocks were usually worn in the winter. Of course if it got really cold such as well below zero tha a boy might wear long pants. This was, however, not common, especially in southern France."

Headwear Types

We have noted Belgian boys wearing a wide range of headwear, including berets, hats, and caps. The beret as in France was common for many years. It is probanly the headwear most associated with Belgian boys. The popularity of berets basically followed the same time line and conventions as berets in France. Hats predominated in the 19th century. We begin to see more boys wearing caps in the 20th century. Caps with military styling seem to have been popular. We note boys in the 1930s wearing peaked caps that look rather like a combination between British school caps and flat caps. Wide-brimmed hats were popular for younger boys in the late-19th and very early-20th century. Both boys and girls wore them, although girls also wore fancier hats of similar size that boys did not wear. As in other European countries sailor styles were very popular, done as both caps and hats. Our coverage of Belgian headwear is still fairly limited. Belgium is a rather small country and thus our archive is not as substantial as the larger countries like Britain, Feance, and Germany. The popular headwear types seem to have been primarily influenced by France.

Sailor Styles

Boys in the late 19th and early 20th century commonly wore sailor hats and caps. Although Belgium had virtually no navy, sailor hats and caps along with sailor suits were as commonly worn in Belgium as in neighboring Netherlands, Germany, and France where they were also very popular. Younger boys commonly wore wide brimmed sailor hats in the late 19th and early 20th century. These wide-brimmed sailor hats were worn with both sailor suits and other outfits. Older boys more commonly wore a variety of sailor cap styles. Sailor caps were most commonly worn with sailor suits. Styles were influenced by both France and Germany as well as the Netherlands. Until the 1930s usually wore hats or caps with their sailor suits.







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Created: October 25, 2002
Last updated: 3:41 PM 8/24/2018