German Boys' Tights / Strumpfhose

Figure 1.--This German boy photographed with his older sister wears a short pants suit with tights. The photograph was probably taken in the 1950s. Even though he wears a suit, the tights were probably being worn for warmth and not as a formal style.

Tights appear to be more popular in German than in many other European countries. The full history of tights in Germany is not fully understood. German boys commonly wore long stockings in the winter, even after the 1910s when they generally went out of style in many other European countries. Younger boys in the inter-war years might even wear them with short pants. Tights may have also been worn during this period. After World War II (1939-45) some boys appeared to have begun wearing tights rather than long stockings, although HBC has little information on this. Some German boys continue to wear them in the 1990s. Even older boys might wear them during the winter for football (soccer) practice. There are a wide variety of tights availablr for boys in Germany in many different colors, patterns, and styles.


The German word for tights is "Strumpfhose". One reader eroneously told us that the term is "Strumpfhoseklage", but our German readers report there is no such word. A reader tells us, "'trumpfhose' is correct. 'Strumpfhoseklage' is not a German word, actually it is not a word at all. It is a mixture of three German single words making no sense. Thus we now know that "Strumpfhose". It is a typical combination German word. It means Stockings (Strumpf) and pants/trousers (Hose). We do not know if there are specific terms for childrens or boys tights. Presumably the Germand just add "kinder" or "junged" as an adjitive, but hopefully our German readers will advise us more about terminology. A German reader reports, "The same term is used for the thin fashion pantyhose for women and the heavy winter woolen tights worn by children as well as by adults."


HBC at this time has dificulty in assessing the chronology of tights, because of the very limited information available on tights. Because tights were not commonly worn by American boys--HBC is generally unfamiliar with the style and was at first confused with long stockings. Our German readers have hrelped us piece together some basic information. Except for theatrical tights, they seemned to have appeared in children's versions in the late-1950s. Suddently in 1959 most of all manufactureres of hosiery added tights to their production. HBC is not sure why production began at this time. Tights were being produced for girls in America with new synthetiv fisbers. These new fibers may have been the key factor in Germany. Our German source reports that was in part a matter of the elastic material needed for producing them by machine. The key development was a fabric called "helanca", which was introduced around 1955 and which was used first to make elastic stockings, later tights. Tights became popular right away in West Germany, but took longer to replace long stockings in East Germany. The popularity has varied over time. Theyy are currently worn by both boys and girls in cold weather. There are also adult versions..

Figure 2.--This German boy wears suspender shorts with tights. Suspender shorts were very commion in Germany through the 1950s.


HBC at this time is unsure as to what age boys wore tights in Germany. It appears to have varied over time. It is difficut to assess. Gernman boys still commonly wore short opants in the 1950s, but this began ti change in the 1960s. Obviously if a boys wears long pants, you can noy tell from available images if he is weating tights. I am not sure what ageboys wore tights when they were first introduced in the 1950s. By the 1990s as tated above, most young children wear tights, but by age 10/12 only a minority.


Tights were initinally made of wool. In the 1950s tights became available in other fabrics. The early tights appear to have been relatively sheer. Many of the current tights appear to be made out of much heavier material.



Our infirmation on German tights colors is very limited at this time. German boys before World War II wore long stockings in soft colors. With the black and white photography they look to be brown or fawn, but it is diiicult to tell. I think the boys are wearing long stockings, but they could be tights. One might suspect that the first tights might follow long stocking colors, but we are not yet sure about that. A factor here may be that at first mostly boys wore tights in Germany. (We have not yet been able to cinfirm this.) After tights became popular in the early 1960s, we are not sure what colors were initially offered. Eventually bright colors began to appear, including royal blue, green, red, and yellow as well as black and white. We know that American girls wore all sorts of bright colors. The same may have been true in Germany. Our color information, however, is very limited. I'm not sure which colors German boys preferred, but presumably blue, brown, and black. Age was probably a factor with color choice.

Figure 3.--These children model the tights worn by Germans during the cold winter wearther. I don't think, however, that this style would have been very popular with German boys.


Most tights were plain solid colors. Some heavier tights might be ribbed. There were also stripped socks, some woth wide color bands. There were also tights that came with designs such as flowers. These were usually worn by girls. There were also white tights with lacey designs. These were always worn by girls.


Tights are made in both plain weave and a ribbed weave. Special tights are also made for athletics.


German boys have worn tights with a variety of clothes. When tights appeared on the German market about 1959, German boys still commonly wore short pants. Shorts were declining in popularity, especially during the winter, but still worn. Knickers were no longer worn, but boys did wear knicker-length ski pants. Lederhosenm both short and knee-length styles were also worn. Increasingly, however, German boys were wearing long pants, a trend which had become pronounced by the 1970s. Many advertisements show children wearing tights with just a "T"-shirt or other simple shirt. HBC believes that this was a device to best show the tights, and not a way in which tights were actually worn.


The main purpose of wearing tights was warmth during cold weather. There were, however, several other reasons for wearing them.


Dressing warmly during cold weather used to be more important than today. Homes and schools were less well heated than today. Thus boys often had to dress warmly even indoors. Winters can be quite severe in Germany. Thus German mothers seek warm winter clothing for their children. ASpparently many mothers thought that a warm pair of wollen tights would help keep their sons and daughters warm in the coldeesrtvwinter weather.

Formal dress look

Tights were worn by tounger Continental European and even American boys for dress occasiions, much as long stockings were once worn. HBC does not know, however, how common this was in Germany. Some scattered reports that some mothers did use white tights with short pants for a dressy look. One reports indicated that shortalls were worn with wjite stockings.

Figure 4.--German boys playing soccer in shorts and tights. Serious soccer players would not think of wearing long pants.


Tights are currently worn by even older German boys for sport. Unlike America where boys play basketball indoors during the wunter, German boys play soccer year round. The soccer uniform is of course short pants. Indeed for many years soccer shorts were cut quite short. Playing soccer outdoors in short oants during the winter can be very cold--even weith all the action. Thus tights were the ideal garment to wear with short pants for outdoor wear. They can also help avoid injuries such as skin scrapes. For these reasons, tights are commonly worn for soccer during the winter.


While some boys at their or their parent's option may wear tights for sport, gymnastics is a sport where boys routinely wear tights for both practive and performance.


Ballet does not appear to be popular among German boys. HBC has found only limited information about German boys studing ballet, but does not have detailsedf information on the status of ballet instruction in this major European country. One possibe factor is that younger German boys have worn tights for warmth during the winter, although this is not as common as it once was. This may make ballet costumes more acceptable to German boys than boys in other countries where tights are not commonly worn by boys.

German Democrartic Republic--DDR (East Germany)

The discussion of tights on this page primarily deal with the German Federal Republic--GFR (West Germany). Much less information is available on trends in the GDR (1945-89). Available images are somewhat difficult to assess because it is difficult to destinguish between ights and long stockings. Also some boys wore them during the winter with long pants. A German contributor reports that boys in the DDR were also wearing tights, but they were expensive there and therefore not as common as in the west. He also reports that real boys' tights (with fly or zipper in front) were introduced in the DDR approximately 8 years later that they appeared we had in the GFR. One reader reports that tights were not just cold weather attire, but worn by boys and girls with dressy outfits. HBC speculates that tights may have spread from the DDR to Poland, Russia, and other East Bloc countries. Our German contributor reports that he does not yet understand about how tights were introduced to the East Bloc countries. He thinks it could have been possible. He reports that boys now wear tights more commonly than in Germany. Hopefully HBC readers from Poland, Russia, and other countries will provide us some information.


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Created: January 8, 2000
Last updated: 6:24 PM 7/22/2010