Here we see an unidentified, but clearly prosperous Belgian family about 1955. We know nothing about the family, but they look to be an affluent middle-class family living in the suburbs of a large city. Their sons wears a plaid shirt and button-on shorts. The daughter wears a classic little girl's dress. Notice that the bodice is the same as that of the classic romper suit (figure 1).
Here we see an unidentified, but clearly prosperous Belgian family. We know nothing about the family, but they look to be an affluent middle-class family living in the suburbs of a large city.
The portrait here was taken about 1955. Their sons wears a plaid shirt and button-on shorts. The daughter wears a classic little girl's dress. Notice that the bodice is the same as that of the classic romper suit (figure 1). A reader writes, "You say that the older boy wears "button-on shorts" but it looks to me as though the front buttons are for fastening a flap of the shorts and that the flap opens outward (like lederhosen). Also I suspect that the buttons on the shorts are there for attaching suspenders, although the boys is not wearing them. I could be wrong, but I don't think the checked shirt has waist buttons, which it would have to have if the shorts button on. On the other hand the shorts look pretty loose to stay up on their own without suspenders or belt, so you could be right. These could even be leather pants, although I think they are some sort of gray woolen material. I'm wondering whether you agree. Notice that the shirt buttons, although white like the trousers buttons, are smaller." We I wonderec about the shorts when I tried to describe them. First I would say the shorts do not definitely have a Ledergosen-type flap and are noy leather. They look to me to be wool flannel. Now as to the buttons while thet are a different size than the shirt buttons, notice how they match the sfirt buttons in style and color, suggesting a set. This is curious as I have not normally plais shirts matched with dress wool pants. The suggestion that the buttons may be for suspender shorts straps is a possibility, but why then have four front buttons? The suspender shorts I have seen only had two front buttons. Another reader writes, "I agree with the reader. In the early 1960's I spent about four or five months in Ghent Belgium, which is in Flanders in the north of Belgium. I never saw any button on shorts but occasionally saw shorts with suspenders, and usually boys of his age were almost always in shorts. Boys usually didn't get their first pair of long pants until 12 years or older".A French reader writes, "This little boy in the 1950s is wearing a suit called ' ensemble ' which is composed of a flanelle shirt long sleeves and a short pant called ' culotte à pont '. This look was popular utill the end of the 1950s fo boys under 8 years of age in France and of course in Belgium . This ' culotte à pont ' had two button; one at each side to close it and had four buttons on the shirt ; ( two in front and two behind ) , that is to say in total = 6 buttons. This ' ensemble ' model might be put on with the help his mother. This short pant style didn't have a fly.One can see this style in contemporary catalogues. Into French: Button-on-shorts. Quite fun! There is no similar word to describe this sort of pants. One says in this case : culotte boutonnée à la chemise. Until 1960 concerning boys' short pants for children under age 8 years old, there were three styles: 1) Button-on-short ( more on Sunday ), 2) Bib-front shorts (popular in Summer), anmd 3) Suspenders shorts (all year ). Shorts were rarely worn with a belt. At this time mothers were attentive that their children didn't have their back bare. [HBC didn't understand the last sentence. I think it mens that shorts were normally worn with a shirt.] An Australian reader writes, "I can lay testimony to being subjected by my Mother and Grandmothers about a similar situation. They were always telling us to keep our shirts tucked in and to never allow our mid waist to be exposed to the elements. This was because of the cold weather and the possibility of catching a chill in your kidneys. Whether this is true or not, I am not sure. Perhaps HBC readers with medical knowledge will be able to throw some light on this."
The previous page (or click on the image here) shows the family in 1958 after their baby brother has arrived. There are three children, two boys and a girl. It looks to be Spring. The younger boy wears a classic French romper suit (baboteuse). Notice how similar his romper suit is to the little girl's dress in the 1955 portrait. The little girl in 1958 wears a simple frock. The older brother seems to be wearing a short duffle coat with short pants. This is much shorter than the duffle coats that I have norrmally noticed.
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