German Boys' Clothes: Garments--Pants


Figure 1.--These boys are clearly German. A photograph collector dates this snapshot of two Berlin brothers to the the 1930s. HBC believes that it is more likely the early 50s. Click on the image for a fuller discussion of their clothes. Image courtesy of the RS collection.

German boys like other European boys have worn a wide variety of pants or trousers. German boys have worn knee breeches, kneepants, sort pants, knickers, and long pants. Leather lederhosen are strongly associated with Bavaria and Alpine areas of neighboring countries. The types of pants worn have varied chronologically with knee breeches perdominate in the 18th century. By the 19th centurty a wider variety of styles were worn. By the late 19th century the boys' age began to increasingly affect the style of pants worn. Kneepants were widely worn by the turn of the 20th century. Afterwards short pants became increasingly common with knickers worn by older boys. Throughout the 19th and 20 centuty long pants were also worn, but became increasingly common by the 1960s.

Chronology

German boys like boys and men throughout Europe wore kneebreeches in the 18th century. By the 19th centurty a wider variety of styles were worn. Boys in many countries began wearing long pants as part of new fashionable skeleton suits. HBC is not sure, however, how common skeleton suits were in the German states. Most German boys wore long pants throughout the 19th century. We see some boys from fashionable families wearing shortened-length pants by mid-century, both bloomer knickers and knee pants. Even so into the 1870s most German boys wore long pants. By the late 19th century the boys' age began to increasingly affect the style of pants worn. Kneepants were widely worn by the turn of the 20th century. Afterwards short pants became increasingly common with knickers worn by older boys. Before World War II most German boys wore short pants until about 15 years of age, although there were differences from family to family. Throughout the 19th and 20 centuty long pants were also worn, but became increasingly common in the late 1950s. American jeans in particular became popular, but mant German parents did not bekieve they were appropriate boyswear. Long pants became more nd more popular in the 1960s. Short pants began to be seen as casual or sports wear.

Age Conventions

German age comventions concering pants varied widely chronologically. German boys in the 19th century after breeching mostly wore long pants in the 19th centry. We notice age conventions beginning to develop after the mid-19th century. Younger boys after breeching began wearing shortened-length oants such as knee pants and bloomer knickers. Tis was particularly the case of affluent families. Working-class boys of all ages continued to wear mostly long pants. This did not chnge until the very late 19th century when we see more boys wearing knee pants and bloomer knickes. After the turn of the 20th century more and older German boys began waring knee pants. Bloomer knickers were also worn, but declined in the 1910s. German boys began commonly wearing short pants afer World War I. Most younger boys and some older boys wore shorts, depending on varying parental attitudes. Some older boys wore knickers. Not only did more boys wear shorts, but we see even younger teenagers wearing them. We also see boys wearing knickers, but mostly older teenagers. After World war II, knickers disappeard. Most boys wore shorts, including teenagers. Here a factor was the difficult economic condition. Gradually short pants went out of style for older boys, especially in the 1950s when jeans appeaed. Long pants becae increasingly popular even for younger boys. Younger German boys continued to wear shorts into the 1960s. Gradually age conventions declined in importance as short pants began to be seen as warm weather seasonal wear.

Seasonality

Seasonality was not in the 19th century as important a factor as a boy's age and family conventions. The same was true in the early 20th century. While many German boys in the early 20th century commonly wore short pants, this was not universal. Not all German boys wore shorts, especially in the winter many boys wore long pants or knickers. This appears to have neen more common in German than several other European countries such as England and France. Even so age was commonly the principal factor. Many boys wore shirt pants in the winter, but with warm long stockings. After World War II, especially by the 1950s, seasonality beccame an ncreasingly imporant factor. Short pnts began to be seen as warm weather casual wear.

Types

German boys like other European boys have worn a wide variety of pants or trousers. German boys have worn knee breeches, kneepants, sort pants, knickers, and long pants. Leather lederhosen are strongly associated with Bavaria and Alpine areas of neighboring countries. The types of pants worn have varied chronologically. Our information on the 19th century is limited, but we have quite a bit of information for the 20th century. There wee also social class differences which also varied over time. Other factors included demographic and regional differences. Boys like their fathers predominately wore knee breeches in the 18th century. This was the standard dress of German males after breeching, regardless of age. Long pants were adopted by laborers and peaseants before gentelmen began wearing them in in the 1820s. Boys generally wore long pants until after mid-century when kneepnts began increasing in popularity. Kneepants were very common in the late 19th and early 20th century, but were graduallt replaced by short pants. Older boys might wear knockers. While many German boys wore kneepants, short pants, and knickers many German boys also wore long pants. Shorts pants became very common in the mod-20th century, but long pants became increasingly popular in the 1960s. Lederhosen or modern leather short pants appeared first in the German state of Bavaria. I'm not sure when they were first worn. I assume they have originated with knee breeches and gradually become shorter.

Trouser Suspension

Our information on trouser suspension in Germany is limited at this time. We have, however begun to collect some information. Our inforation on the 19th century is incomplete at this time. We are not sure when suspenders first appeared. German boys of all ages were wearing kneepants and long stockings in the late 19th century. They were very commonly held up with suspenders. Belts are more difficult to see in old photographs. We notice th belts are much more common after World war I, especially by the 1930s. We also note button-on styling in the 1920s, but are not precisely sure when it first appeared. Lederhosen with haltars were worn in the 19th century. Keepants were were rapidly repalaced with short pants and kneesocks in the 1910s. We do not notice suspender pants and H-bar pants until after World War I. These styles were widely worn by younger boys. Short pants were the most common. The suspender shorts appears to have been particularly popular in Germany. Perhaps the similarity with lederhosen halters were a factor here.

Social Connotations

HBC is not entirely sure about the social connotations associated with short and long pants in Germany. There were destinct social-class conotations in America and other countries. There appear to have been social conotations in Germany. Avaialble images in the early 20th century show that many younger boys from working-class families wore long pants--often tattered and worn. HBC has also noted some images of German boys from wealthy families. The yonger boys tended to wear short pants, but older boys sometimes wore nicely tailored long pants suits. This topic reqwuire some further research.

Hosiery

German boys wore a variety of hosiery with diferent kinfs of pants. The type of pants affected what hosiery was worn. Here the type of pants also affects the informtin available from the photographic record. It is easy to tell what type of hosiery boys in short pants are wearing. It is very difficult to tell what kinds of hosiery boys in long pants are wearing. A variety of factors including age, formality, seaonality, social class, and other fsactors are involved. We are just beginning to work on this topic. So far we have a short pants hosiery page.







HBC






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Created: March 10, 1999
Last updated: 9:42 PM 12/4/2008