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, both caps and hats. The beret was common for many years. Caps with military styling also seem to have been especially popular. As in other Euyropean countries, sailor styles were also popular.

Beret

The headwear most associated with Belgian boys is probably the beret also worn by French boys. I'm not sure when Belgian boys first began wearing berets. The chronology is probably similar to trends in France. 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. 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. The boy here wears a green beret in this post card which has had color painted in. We think that black berets were the most common type.

Flat caps


Forage caps

We see a few boys wearing forage caps during World War II. This wasnot a common style, but we have noted a few examples in the photographic record. The forage was a military-style cap similat to the Scottish Glengary. Many different terms were used for it in America, including the garrison cap, wedge cap, flight cap, and overseas cap. We are not sure what the name of these caps were in Belgium. The German term "Schiffchen" (little ship) msay have been used in Flanders. The origin of the caps in Frsnce differed from the Glengary, but the Belgian caps were probably influenced by the Germans. Boys wore the caps because of youth group uniforms. We think hat this was porimarily World War II, pri-NAZI youth groups, but we have few details at this time.

Military peaked caps

Fashionable boys wore military styled peaked caps. We are not sure, but believe these caps appeared in the mid-19th century. We notice them as late as the 1930s. I have not noted them in the 1940s, but our information is limited. I believe this was a common style for schoolwear. I am not sure, however, if they were actaul uniform caps. We note that some were worn with tassles. Here we are not sure if this was meerly decorative or some sort of award earned at school.

Peaked caps

We note boys in the 1930s wearing peaked caps that look rather like a combination between British school caps and flat caps. An example are the caps worn by Brussels brothers in 1932.

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: 12:52 AM 8/14/2009