Family portraits are an interesting way for HBC to compare the clothing of the other members of the family with the ways that boys dressed in any given time period. Many of the HBC pages show boy's clothing in isolation. This is necessary because we donot have the ability to address the enormous additional topics of girls, women's, and men's clothing. Images of families, however, enable us to relate boys' clothing to hat worn by the other family members which might be useful to readers with a wider fashion focus. These images also provide some insights into Belgian family life. We do not yet have any information on 19th century Belgian families. Our Celgian 19th century archive is very limited. We know much more about the 20th century. Belgian readers have provided us many 20th century images. Thus we have quite a few 20th century family images.
We note that sailor suits were very popular for Belgisn boys during the 1910s. The national life wasc of course devistated by the German World War I invasion and occupation. Most of the country was occupied throughout the War. Thousands of children were orphaned and starvation was only averted by the delivery of aid by America which was neutral until April 1917. Even so behind the German lines, life went on for many families and we have a few portraits from this period. White dresses and hair bows seem popular for girls. Men might wear wing collared shirts. Women might wear a white blouse and skirt.
We have a charming portrait of a Belgian boy and his sister. It is undated, but we believe was taken in the early 1920s. The boy wears a fancy middy blouse with a tie, showing the silor style is still popular. His sister wears a large hair bow and what looks like a Chinese or Japanese inspired dress.
W have a few Belgian family potrraits from the 1930s. We note one prosperous looking unidentified middle-class family, probably taken in the late-1930s just before World War II. There are three children. The boy looks to be about 12-13 years old abd wears ahort pants suit with knee socks. He has two younger sisters. The older girl wears a traditional sailor dress. Both wear white socks.
The 1940s was a tumultous decade for the Belgians. The Germans invased (May 1940) and occupied the country untill liberated by the Allies (September 1944). Conditions steadily deteriorated under NAZI occupation as the the authorities exploited the country to support the German war economy. Only the Belgian coilonies in Africa remained in Belgian hands. The immediate post0War years were diffiult as thge country recovered from the War. Only by the end of the decade did conditions improve as a result of the American Maeshal Plan and the beginning steps in European integration. We note an unidentified family in the Lake Kivu area of the Belgian Congo during 1946. We note an unidentified Belgian family in 1949. We know very little about the family, other than that it seems to be an urban middle class family living in comfortable circumstances. Most of the available images come from the 1940s, most after the World War II German occupation.
Here we see an unidentified Belgian family in 1958 (figure 1). We know nothing about the family, but they look to be an affluent middle-class family living in the suburbs of a large city. There are three children, two boys and a girl. It looks to be Spring. The younger boy wears a classic French romper suit (baboteuse). The little girl wears a simple frock. The older brother seems to be wearing a short duffle coat with short pants. We have some images from what we at first thought was a French family in the 1950s, but we have since learned that they were another Belgian family named Ripens. We see a portait of the children of a substantial Brussels family, four boys and a girl. They look to be about 3-14 years old. The boys wear identical outfits, white shirts, ties, shirt pants, and white knee socks. The only difference is the strap mshoes that the byounger boys wears. Strap shoes were easier for younger childen to dress than lace-up shoes that had to be tied. Their big sister has long braids and wears a dress with a white collar.
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