Italian School Uniform: Garments


Figure 1.--The boys at this primary class during 1952-53 mostly wear their regular clothes. A few boys wera the dark school smocks and one boy a light-colored smock.

The school garment most associated with Italy of course is the school smock. Italian school smocks have varied over time. The classic style was a dark blue or black smock worn with a wide white collar and big floppy red bow. Originally smocks buttoned at the back. Many schools no longer require smocks, but a number of Itlalin schools still do. Boys generally prefer front buttoning smocks and this style has become more common. Colors have changed too. Some schools have different colors for boys and girls. Common colors include different shades of blue, white, and pink. While some schools have required students to wear smocks, there seems to have been a wide toleration as to just what the children wore under their smocks. The smock was most common in primary schools. We notice a variety of different styles in secondary schools.

Headwear


Jackets


Sailor Suits

We see many Italian boys wearing sailor suits to school in the late 19th and early 20th century. The sailor suit seems especially popular in the 1910s. Younger children wore smocks, but we see many children in secondary schools, neginng abpit age 11 wearing sailor suit. We note many different styles. We do not notice a dominanant traditional style based on the Italian naval uniform. The poplarity in secondary schools shows that the sailor suit as in other countries was especially popular with middle-class families. Working-class children generally did not go to secondary schools. These wee not school uniforms, but outfits parents chose for schoolwear. Silor suits of course were not the only outfirs selected, but they clearly were a popular choice. They seemed to have slowly declined in popularity after the early 1920s. We do not yet, however, have detailed chronological information. We still see sailor suits during World War II (1939-45). As far as we can tell, the sailor suit disappeared as a school style after the War. We also notice girls wearing sailor outfits, but not as commonly as for the boys.

Suits


Shirts


Pants

We do not yet know nuch about shool wear in the 19th and early-20th centuries. After World War I in the 1920s we see a lot of boys wearing short pants, often with smocks. This continued through the 1950s. We begin to see more boys wearing long pant in the 1960s anhd they were incresingly common un the 1970s. Here age was also afactor.

Smocks

The school garment most associated with Italy of course is the school smock. Italian school smocks have varied over time. The classic style was a dark blue or black smock worn with a wide white collar and big floppy red bow. Originally smocks buttoned at the back. Many schools no longer require smocks, but a number of Itlalin schools still do. Boys generally prefer front buttoning smocks and this style has become more common. Colors have changed too. Some schools have different colors for boys and girls. Common colors include different shades of blue, white, and pink. While scome schools have required students to wear smocks, there seems to have been a wide toleration as to just what the children wore under their smocks.

Rompers

We do not see many Italian boys wearing rompers to school. We suspect that as in France that younger boys did wear rompers to pre-school, but we cannot yet confirm this. By 1st grade boys were mostly wearing short pants. And we have noted some boys wering romper suits outside of school. While we have not noted rompers being used as a regular school garment, we do seeing rompers being used in custodial settings like orphanages. The images we have found seem to be summer outfits employed in part because of the heliotropic approached conidered healthy for children. We note boys in a classroon all wearing the same romper suits as a uniform. There is uniform available about the school, but stronly suspect it was an orphanage school, in part becuse the boys are all so perfectly outfitted in the same summer romper outfit with cross strap fronts. School uniforms were not common in Italy, exceptfor the smocks dopted by many schools. It apparently was a facility located in Rome. The photograph is undated, but we suspect it was just after World War II when the cuntry had many orphans that needed care. The boys look to be older primary boys about 11 years old or so. We also note boys wearing romper sun suits at an orphanage school for handicapped children about 1950. It looks to be school uniform rather than a gym suit. We do not think that this was very common. Girls in secondary schools probably wore romper-type gym suits, but we do not yet have any photographic evidence.

Hosiery

A lot of Italian childten went to chool barefoot. This was a primarily a economic matter and especially common in poverty-stricken the south. We note children wearing long stockings in the 19th and earky-20th century, but not as commonly as in northern Europe. Here climate was a factor. Knee socks were common in the 20th century inter-War era and at midentury. Subsequently ankl ivks becme standard.

Footwear

There was never a national Italian dress code for state schools. Many school adopted smocks, but color and other elements were stated by local school authorities. Rules about footwear were nonexistent or flexible. Boys wore both shoes and sandals. About footwear there were many differences. An Italian reader tells us, "My father told me that in his primary school in Naples during the 1930s pupils couldn't attend barefoot. This was not the case throughout Italy. Many children did come to school barefoot. Many schools in Sardinia and Calabria (southern Italy) commonly came to school barefoot until the 1950s and in some cases into the 1960s.









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Created: September 1, 2001
Last updated: 3:50 AM 7/14/2016