Boys' Headwear: Country Trends


Figure 1.--The beret is an example of a largely French style of headwear that became popular in many other countries. Here a little Grman boy wears a beret with his suit during 1941.

Headwear for the most part crossed mational borders. There have been national styles (alpine caps, baseball caps, berets, school caps, tams, and other styles). Some of these have remained national styles. Others have gradually spread beyond national borders. A primarly example of this prpcess are sailor styles and the baseball cap. There are only a few destinct national styles. Most popular headwear styles are largely international in character. There have, however, been differences over time as to the popularity of different styles from country to country. There are many HBC country headwear pages, but only a few actual national headwear pages. We are working on this. We are in the process of linking them here so that we have a headwear page for each country.

America North


Canada

We have little information on headwear worn by Canadian boys. We suspect that the styles were very similar to those worn by American boys. Boys from affluent families may have worn British styles as well. We have noted boys wearing British-style peaked school caps. These were also worn in America. Much more coimmon were various styles of flat caps. We note a lot of Canadian boys wearing flat caps in the early 20th century.We do not know if French Candian boys wore different styles. We have noted some boys wearing berets. Boys as in America and France commonly wore sailor caps and hats. We suspect that cold weather hats were especially important and were similar to styles worn in northern states like Maine and Minnesota.

United States

American boys in the 18th century wore three-corner hats just like their dads. Boys on the frontier may have worn coon-skin caps like Davy Crockett, but this was not a specialized boy's style. The first specialized children's hat was probably the wide-brimmed sailor hat made popular in England and worn by American boys through the early 20th century. Tams were popular for a while, but became seen as more of a girl's garments as did berets which for a while were worn by younger boys. The flat cap which appeard at the turn of the century became a universally popular style for boys after World War I (1914-18) in the 1920s. There were specialized winter styles with ear flaps and fur. Stocking caps became popular winter caps. Affluent boys might wear English-styled peaked caps with short pants suits. A few younger boys wore berets. Cowboy hats were popular wth boys, but more as a novely or playy cap. Coon-skin caps made a brief appearance in the 1950s. The principal development after World War II (1939-45) was the declining popularity of caps and hats of all kinds. American boys who once never left home without a cap, now commonly did so. The emergence of the baseball cap, complete with the athletic team logo of choice, in the 1970s as the head covering of choice for the American boy was a fashion statement which has now spread around the world.

Asia


China


Japan

Headwear has been different. Younger children wore a wide range of different hat and cap styles. Baseball caps became very popular with older boys in the post-War era. Boys wore a varity of caps to school both as part of uniforms and at schools which did not require uniforms. They were ofen bright color, a saftey measure to help motorists spot the children walking to school.

Europe


Austria

The headwear most accociated with Austrian boys are sailir hats and caps. There does no appear to be any stromg association such as the beret in France. The sailor suit was so popular in Austria over so long a period that various styles of sailor hats and caps were widely worn. The wide-brimmed sailor hat was not just worn with sailor suits, but was worn with Fauntleroy and other fancy suits. Broad brmimmed sailor hats were very popular from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Then sailor caps began to become more popular. Austrian nfolk dress includes a kind of Tyrolean hat, but HBC does not know how commonly it was actually worn.

Belgium

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.

Denmark


England

Engish boys have worn a wide range of headwear. There were many popular styles of sailor hats and caps. The large number of sailor styles were in part due to the long period in which sailor fashions were popular for boys, about 100 years. We notice sailor hats with various size brims. There were sailor caps with flat tops, soft crowns, tams, and other styles. The styles usually followed the standard uniform styles of the Royal Navy, but some like tams were specifically for children. These were notable in that sailor headwear was often worn by boys and girls. There were also a variety of school headwear, including both peaked caps and boaters. Paeked caps were especially common and also adopted for Cubs. School girls began wearing boaters, but never peaked caps. There were many other school headwear styles for girls, including berets and other styles. Flat caps were also worn by English boys, normally working-class boys. We also note boys wearing stocking caps. School caps went out of style in the 1950s, but were retained at many private schools. Boys began wearing American baseball caps in the 1980s.

France

We have just begun to collect information on boys' headwear in France. The cap most associated with French boys is of course the Berets The beret has to be the most versitile head gear in history. What other head gear has been wore by little boys and girls, elite soldiers, scruffy Cuban revolutionariers, boy and girl scouts, shepards, a president's nemesis, and many others more. It is esentially a visorless cap--but the simple design can be worn for a multiplicity of different looks. While men, boys, women, and girls have worn berets in many different countries, no country is more associated with the beret than France. Berets were widely worn through World War II, but by the 1950s were no longer commonly worn. French boys as other European boys also common wore various styles of sailor hats and caps. Boys wore sailor caps and hats both with sailor suits and a variety of other clothes. Sailor headwear was worn through the 1930s. Boys also wore Tam O'Shanters or tams.

Germany

HBC has just begun to collect information on German boys' headwear. We note a variety of different headwear styles over time. Headwear was very common in the 19th and early 20th century, but since the mid-20th century has become less common. There are a range of factors besides fashion involved in the choice of heawear, including age, gender, and social-class. As with the French and English, there are a few headwear style especially associated with German boys. The most common is the alpine style often worn with Bavarian folk costumes like lederhosen outfits. Some German readers have mentioned a "Schirmmütze". We do note that sailor hats and caps were especially popular in Germany, as were sailor suits. Many German boys began scgool wearing either sailor hats and caps or peaked army style caps. We have also noted rather English-looking boaters. Various styles of flat caps were also popular. During the NAZI era boys wore their Hitler Youth caps with their uniforms. We have very limited information on German headwear at this time. We also do not know the German names for all of the different caps and hats. We note that the German word for cap was "mütze" and the name for many caps was formed as in English my simply adding a noun to it like "schülermütze" for school cap.

Hungary


Iceland

We have very little information on Iceland at this time. A World War II image shows an Icelandic boy by wearing what looks like a German-styled Schirmmütze.

Italy

We do not have much information at this time about the headwear worn by Italian boys. Many of our images show boys without any kind of headgear. We wonder if caps and hats were less common in Italy than some other countries. We have seen images of peasant boys in southern Italy wearing small red caps. We note some white-brimmed hats and other sailor styles. We also note some Italian boys wearing berets. We are not sure how common this was. It seems to have been more of a stylish garment worn when the boys were dressed up more than a casual style commonly worn. We have also noted a few boys wearing English style peaked caps. This style was also adopted by a few private schools.

(The) Netherlands

Dutch boys have worn many cap and hat styles similar to those worn by other European boys. Younger boys in the 18th century might wear "fall" caps. I'm not sure, however, if these were exclusively Dutch. Sailor hats were especially popular in the late 19th and early 20th century as many Dutch boys wore sailor suits. In the late 19th and early 20th century Dutch boys also commonly wore military looking caps with a hard viser or bill. These caps were called "kleppet". It was a characteristically Dutch style. I'm not sure of the origins of those caps.

Poland

Polish boys in the early 20th centiry wore wide-brimmed sailor hats. We do not know to what extent sailor caps were worn. Nor do we have infomation on other popular headwear syles in Poland.

Russia

We have little information about the headwear worn by Russian boys at this time. We do have some limited information. We dont see many hats, but we have noted a variety of caps. We note many familiar European styles such as sailor caps. After the REvolution we see a very destinctive cap worn by the Red Army that some boys wore. Flat caps seem popular in the 1920s and 30s. This was a style also worn by adults. We note younger boys wearing berets in the 1950s and 60s. There are also a range of cold weather caps, but we do not yet have information on the different styles.

Scotland

We do not yet have a general Scottish headwear page. We do have a page on Scottish caps.

Sweden


Switzerland


Oceania


Australia

We note Australian boys wearing a wide range of hats. Until recently they were basically, like fashion in general the same as the headwear worn in England. We note both hats and caps. We have very little information on the 19th century. We know agood bit by the turn-of-the 20th century. And without knowing where the photograpph was taken, it woulkd hard to destinguish between English and Australian fashions. The only clue if the image is a full-length shot is tat Australia boys were commonly barefoot. Hats included wide-brimmed sailor hats. and boaters. Notice all the wide-nbrimmed hats that the younger boys here are wearing on the previous page. We also see sun hats which the Australians refer to some as bucket hats. The softer style here was more kikeoy to be called a bucket hat. Australia is know for the bush hat, a kind of reworking of the American stetson. We first see Austrlian soldiers wearing them in World War I. It became an iconic Austrlian style. I recall a travel company in England that wa promting Australia wih these hats and had corks hanging down from them. This is not a style, however, we see boys wearing, at least until well after World War II. The primary cap we see Australian boys wearing is the traditioal English school cap, the style also adopted by Cubs. We also see sailor caps. We see some flat caps, but school caps were much more common. Girls as in England wore very differet styles. After World War II as a result of American influences, we begin to see baseball caps by the 1960s. Generally the use of headwear declined after World War II. By the end of the century, however, we befin to see sun-safe headwear.








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Created: 4:02 PM 9/9/2004
Last updated: 8:41 AM 6/23/2015