Austrian Schoolwear: St. Pöta Niederösterroch, 1897


Figure 1.--These Austrian schoolboys at St. Pöta were photographed in 1897. The younger boys wear kneepants and knicker suits, some wear sailor suits. The older boys appear to be wearing long pants suits, but this cannot be confirmed.

The boys at the St. Pöta School in Niederösterrech (Lower Austria) during 1897, like other Austrian boys, did not wear school uniforms. They all wear suits of various types, except for some of the younger boys who wear sailor suits. Many of the younger boys wear knickers or kneepants with long stockings, but this is not universal. Most of the older boys appear to be wearing long pants.

Chronology

Boys at the school in 1897 show the styles commonly worn at the turn of the century. I'm not sure just when began wearing lederhosen to school, other than as rural dress, none of the boys at this school appear to be wearing lederhosen. Sailor suits appear to be popular for the younger boys, but none of the mid-age boys are wearing them. shorter pants for the younger boys appears to be an accepted, but not universal convention. The younger boys appear to be wearing various types of pants, including kneepants and knickers as well as long pants. The older boys are probably all wearing long pants, but this can not be confirmed.

The School

I have no details on the school other than it is located in Lower Austria. It appears to be a small school with boys of widly differing ages from about 8 or 9 to 17 years.


Figure 2.--This enlargement shows the varity of suits, collars, and ties worn by the boys. Note the one boy with a shaved head and the younger boy in the sailor suit wearing bangs.

Styles

As Austrian boys did not wear uniforms to school, schoolwear was in fact a reflection of ordinary school wear. German and Austrian schoolwear seem quite similar in the 19th century. Austrian clothes may have been more stylish as the Austrians were more affected by French clothes style. Anti-French feeling in Germany, which was only unified in 1870, probably caused many to reject identifiably French styles.

Garments

The garments worn by Austrian boys were quite similar to those worn in Germany.

Suits

All of the boys at St Pöta wear suits and ties, except for the younger boys wearing sailor suits. Many of the suits have high lapels. Some boys have double breasted suits. Eton colars do not seem very popular. Two boys appear to be wearing Eton collars, but they are descretely worn beneath their jackets. Many of the older boys boys appear to be wearing rather adult looking wing collars like some of the masters are wearing. Except for the younger boys in sailor suits, only one boy wears a jacket without a tie. His jacket buttons at the collar and is not worn open.

Ties

The ties worn by the boys are quite varied. None are wearing modern-looking neckties. Many wear the ties with the large knot. This is especially common with the wing collars. One boy appears to be wearing a large bow tie.

Sailor suits

Three of the boys wear sailor suits, but without the bows normally worn. The boys on the extreme left and right wear light-colored sailor blouses that look identical. They are front buttoning blouses and not pul-over middy blouses. It is not clear what kind of pants they wear with their sailor suits, but they appear to be dark pants. An enlargemennt of the boy on the right can be seen in figure 2. The third boy sitting down in the front wears a dark blue sailor suit with knicker pants and long stockings. He wears a matching middy blouse and pamts, unlike the other two boys whonhave darkmpants with a lighter colored blouse.


Figure 3.--This enlargement shows the varity of pants worn by the boys. The boys here wear long pants, knickers, and kneepants. The younger boys are commonly wearing these versions of short pants, but shorter pants for the younger boys is by no means universal. Kneepants suit after the turn of the century were mostly replaced by eaither short pants or knicker suits. Note the close-cropped hair cut of the two boys in the center.

Pants

Knee pants became increasingly popular in the 1890s and after World War I (1914-18) when the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was broken up, short pants became increasingly common. Most boys commonly wore shorts until the 1960s when long pants, especially jeans, became more common.

Lederhosen

One popular Aystrian garment was lederhosen. I have few details about llederhosen specifically, but the style was commonly worn in southern German (Bavaria), Austrai, and Switzerland. Boys would wear them to school with a jacket or sweater. They were worn for both dressing up, and because of their durability, for play. They continued to be commonly worn through the 1950s, but declined in popularity during the 1960s. None of the boys at St Pöta in 1897, however, are wearing them.

Stockings

All of the boys wearing knickers or kneepants wear them with dark long stockings.

Hair Styles

Most Austrian schoolboys at the turn of the century wear short hair, but a few have nearly shaved heads. At leasr five of the boys have close-cropped hair styles. They are not all the youngest boys, but none of thge oldest boys have the close-cropped hair cuts. This was apparently even more common in Germany and Russia. It generally disappeared in austria during the 1930s.

Other Schools

To see what school boys were wearing at schools in other countries at about the same time have a look at the following:

England: English boys at the turn of the century commonly wore Eton suits or at least suits with Eton collars with school caps. Private schools had uniforms, but state schools which at the time meant elementary schools did not require uniforms.

Germany (Imperial): Germany like Austria did not require school uniforms. Sailor suits were very popular school wear for younger German boys.






Christopher Wagner




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Created: November 30, 1999
Last updated: November 30, 1998