Belgian Boys Clothes: Chronology--The 20th Century


Figure 1.--This Belgian boy probably in the 1910s wears a knee pants suit with white three-quarter length socks. It is difficult, however to see the collar.

We have been able to collect much more information on the 20th century, especially after World war I in the 1920s. We do not note any destinctive Belgian styles, Rather we see boys wearing what look like mostly German and French styles. Here there may be differences between the Waloon and Flemist communities. HBC still has very little information on Belgian boys' clothing during this period. I'd be interested in any details visitors to this page may have. Available information suggests that smocks were commonly worn by boys. As in France, sailor suits were very popular which is interesting because the country had virtually no navy. Boys at the turn of the century mostly wore kneepants. The blouced knicker style seemed to have been popular. Gradully short pants became increasingly popular, especially after the 1900s. As in England, the Boy Scout movement had an important influence. Smocks were still commonly worn to school, but were less common whe the boys came home from school. Older boys might wear knickers. One particularly valuable source of information on early-20th century boys' fashions are postcards as children were popular subjects of cards during this period. Little boys after World War I in the 1920s no longer commonly wore dresses. Belgian and French mothers, however, did adapt a number of styles for such as modified Fautleroy suits with short shirts, white kneesocks, and strap shoes. Belgian boys in the 1920s adopted the new short pants style which was becoming popular in France. Formal short pants suits were worn with knee socks, but ankle socks were often worn on more cassual occasions and were more common than in England. Belgian and French short pants by the l930s were generally worn shorter than in England, often well above the knees. One particularly valuable source of information during the 1920s on boys' fashions are postcards as children were popular subjects of cards during this period, but they became less common in the 1930s. Belgian boys continued to wear short pants after the war. The style was common well into the 1960s. Traditional styles tended to persist longer in many rural areas. Smocks and shorts were less common in the 1960s, but still worn by many boys. Smocks were still commonly worn in many elementary schools. Many boys still commonly wore shorts, both for play and dress in the early 1960s. Probably about half of Belgian boys still wore shorts until they were 12 or 13 years old. Many of these boys, however, might have long pants for cold weather wear during the winter. Most of the boys wearing shorts wore ankel socks during the summer, some with sandals. Boys usually did not wear shorts much past the age of 14. Some traditional parents, however, had boys wear shorts up to 16 years, especially if their school required a short pants uniform. Major changes followed the Paris Student riots in 1968. Belgium boys today dress virtually indistinguisably from boys in France, Germay, Spain, Italy, Britain, and the United States. The pan-European boys' fashions appears to have swept even traditional Belgium. Boys wear jeans, large "t" shirts, sweat shirts, and tennis shoes. Distinctive French outfits are a thing of the past. Baseball caps are less popular in France than in America, but that is one of the few differences.

Early-20th Century (1900-1919)

HBC still has very little information on Belgian boys' clothing during this period. I'd be interested in any details visitors to this page may have. Available information suggests that smocks were commonly worn by boys. As in France, sailor suits were very popular which is interesting because the country had virtually no navy. Boys at the turn of the century mostly wore kneepants. The blouced knicker style seemed to have been popular. Gradully short pants became increasingly popular, especially after the 1900s. As in England, the Boy Scout movement had an important influence. Smocks were still commonly worn to school, but were less common whe the boys came home from school. Older boys might wear knickers. One particularly valuable source of information on early- 20th century boys' fashions are postcards as children were popular subjects of cards during this period. Little boys after World War I in the 1920s no longer commonly wore dresses. Belgian and French mothers, howeer, did adapt a number of styles for such as modified Fautleroy suits with short shirts, white kneesocks, and strap shoes. Belgian boys in the 1920s adopted the new short pants style which was becoming popular in France. Formal short pants suits were worn with knee socks, but ankle socks were often worn on more cassual occasions and were more common than in England. Belgian and French short pants by the l930s were generally worn shorter than in England, often well above the knees. One particularly valuable source of information during the 1920s on boys' fashions are postcards as children were popular subjects of cards during this period, but they became less common in the 1930s.


Figure 3.--French boys from affluent families commonly wore long hair and smocks. This fashion was also widespread in Belgium. Notice the boy's hat in the background.

Inter-War Era (1920-45)

Little boys after World War I in the 1920s no longer commonly wore dresses. Belgian and French mothers, howeer, did adapt a number of styles for such as modified Fauntleroy suits with short shirts, white kneesocks, and strap shoes. Belgian boys in the 1920s adopted the new short pants style which was becoming popular in France. Formal short pants suits were worn with knee socks, but ankle socks were often worn on more cassual occasions and were more common than in England. Belgian and French short pants by the l930s were generally worn shorter than in England, often well above the knees. One particularly valuable source of information during the 1920s on boys' fashions are postcards as children were popular subjects of cards during this period, but they became less common in the 1930s. Belgium was not as heavily damaged during World War II as many other European countries. Most of the damage took place in the final months of the War as part of the German Ardenennes Offensive leading to the battle of the Bulge.

Post-War Period (1945-69)

While the physical damage resulting from World War II in Belgium was less than in many other countries, the economy was badly damaged by the War. This of course affected both the availability of consumer goods and the ability of consumbers to purchase goods. The Marshall Plan, the German Economic Miracle, and the move toward Ruropean unification led to an economic boom throughout Western Europe. By the 1950s, Belgians were better off than before the War. And ghis was reflected in cloything and fashion. Children had much larger wardrobes than they had ever had and this was not just the affluent, but working-class families as well. Belgian boys continued to wear short pants after the war. The style was common well into the 1960s. Traditional styles tended to persist longer in many rural areas. Smocks and shorts were less common in the 1960s, but still worn by many boys. Smocks were still commonly worn in many elementary schools. Many boys still commonly wore shorts, both for play and dress in the early 1960s. Probably about half of Belgian boys still wore shorts until they were 12 or 13 years old. Many of these boys, however, might have long pants for cold weather wear during the winter. Most of the boys wearing shorts wore ankel socks during the summer, some with sandals. Boys usually did not wear shorts much past the age of 14. Some traditional parents, however, had boys wear shorts up to 16 years, especially if their school required a short pants uniform.


Figure 5.--This Belgian choir continued to wear short pants and white kneesocks into the 1990s when most French choirs had begun wearing long pants. The blue shorts and white kneesocks were a commonly worn uniform at French private Catholic colleges (schools).

Late-20th Century

Major changes followed the Paris Student riots in 1968. Belgium boys today dress virtually indistinguisably from boys in France, Germay, Spain, Italy, Britain, and the United States. The pan-European boys' fashions appears to have swept even traditional Belgium. Boys wear jeans, large "t" shirts, sweat shirts, and tennis shoes. Distinctive French outfits are a thing of the past. Baseball caps are less popular in France than in America, but that is one of the few differences.







HBC






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Created: 12:19 AM 11/30/2011
Last updated: 12:19 AM 11/30/2011