Belgian Boys Clothes: Garments--Suits


Figure 1.--This Belgian boy in 1925 wears a an open collar shirt with a wide collar worn over the suit lapels. It was a popular style in the late 1920s and 1930s. His suit is a standard single breasted short pants suit worn with knee socks.

Suits were very commonly worn by Belgian boys, as did boys in other European countries, in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Some boys wore sailor suits instead of suits. Only in the 1950s did boys begin to wear increasingly casual styles and suits became less common. There were many different styles of suits. We note both single and double breasted suits. We believe that Belgian boys basically followed popular French styles, although we have only limited information at this time. We do note that in the late 1920s and 1930s that an open collar shirt with a wide collar worn over the suit lapels was a popular style. Belgian boys have worn suits with kneepants, knickers, short pants, and longpants. We note a few boys wearing black suits which appear to have been a color that was not popular in many other European countries, although worn in America. One good source of information on the suits worn by Belgian boys over time are the First Communion portraits taken. Belgium is a largely Catholic country and most boys did their First Communion in suits, although her again more casual styles were notable bu the 1060s even for First Communion.

Usage

Suits were very commonly worn by Belgian boys, as did boys in other European countries, in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Boys at the time did not have largecwardrobes of casual clothes. Thus suits were wirn for many occassions such as school or even playing about for which casual clothes are now commonly worn. Only in the 1950s did boys begin to wear increasingly casual styles and suits became less common.

Chronology

We have very limited information ion Belgian suits during the 19th century. We suspect that styles were similar to thiose in France. Sailor suits were popular. We are less sure about Fauntleroy suits. Our Belgian archive has very few 19th century images. We know much more about the 20th century. We see boys wearing collar buttoning jackets in the early 20th century, often with knee pants. Long stockings were common. Sailor suits were also popular. Older boys wore lapel jackets. Norfolk suits were popular. We see many boys with Eton collars, but acual Eton suits were less common. After World War I we see both single- and double-breasted suits, often worn with short pants. Knee socks began replacing long stockings, but stockings were still worn for formal occassions. Vests were common. The shorts tended to be knee length in the 1920s and early-30s. The lebngth of the shorts began to become notably shorter in the 1940s. Vests necame less common. We also notice difference in the width of the lapels. The transition to long pants varied from family to family, but was usually in the teens. Some teenagers wore knicker suits as a kind of trabsitiob whivh we see into the 50s. Gradually long pants suits became more commomn, but many boys wore short opants suits into the 1960s. At the samne time, as in the rest of Europe we befgin to see fewer boys wearing suits.

Sailor Suits

S ome boys wore sailor suits instead of suits. This included even younger teenagers. The sailor suit, however began to decline notably in popularity during the 1930s. Unlike some countries where sailor suits were popular, Belgium had no national navy of any consequence. HBC believes that Belgium fashions are basically a function of French fashions and sailor suits were enormously popular in France. Likewise they were extremely popular in Belgium. I'm not sure about the exact chronology, but at the turn of the century most Belgian boys had a sailor suit and commonly wore it. They were an extremely versitile garment They were often worn to school and for a variety of formal occasions.

Jacket Styles

We have noted Belgian boys wearing many different styles of suits over time. We note cut-away suits in the 19th century. We note both single and double breasted suits done in a variety of styles. As in the rest of Europe, Norfolk jackets were very popular in the early 20th century. We believe that Belgian boys basically followed popular French styles, although we have only limited information at this time. We do note that in the late 1920s and 1930s that an open collar shirt with a wide collar worn over the suit lapels was a popular style.

Pants and Trousers

We see Belgian boys wearing suits with all duifferent kinds of pants. This has varied over time as he popularity of the differenht pnts types varied. Belgian boys have worn suits with knee pants, knickers, short pants, and longpants. we do not havev much information on knee pants yet as our 19th century archive is still very limited. Short pants suits seem very common in the inter-War era. Age conventions were a factor which also varied over time. Some older boys wiore knicker suits. Here we see a boy wearing a single breasted jacket and short pants in 1925 (figure 1). Notice the popular Shiller collar and high top shoes. We notice two unidenhtified boys wearing single- and double-breasted jackets with short pants in 1933. After World War, especially by the 1960s we see more boys waing long-pants suits, although short pants suit remjained more populsr in Bekgium than some other European countries. Boys were wearing mostly long panhts suits by the 1970s, but by this iome suits were becoming less common. .

Colors

We note a few boys wearing black suits which appear to have been a color that was not popular in many other European countries, although worn in America.

Schoolwear

Many younger Belgian boys wore smocks to school. Older boys for many years wore suits. Because many Belgian boys wore suits to school until the 1960s, school photographs are also a good indication of Belgian suit styles. A Belgian school 1928 class photograph shows that in a class of what to look to be younger teenagers that there are still two, probably three, boys wearing sailor suits. More boys would have been wearing sailor suits in the 1910s. Most of the other boys are wearing short pants suits with open collars.

First Communion

One good source of information on the suits worn by Belgian boys over time are the First Communion portraits taken. Belgium is a largely Catholic country and most boys did their First Communion in suits, although here again more casual styles were notable by the 1960s even for First Communion. Belgium is also a bilingual country being divided into both French (Waloons) and Dutch (Flemish) speakers. While linguistically divided, both the Waloons and Flemish are Catholics. First Communion has thus been an important event in a Belgian boys life. We believe there may have been social divisions here. We also believe that along with the decline in the importance of religion in Belgium as in much of Western Europe that the event is less important than it used to be. We have little information at this time, but we do know that some boys in the early 20ty century wore sailor suits.







HBC







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Created: July 12, 2002
Last updated: 8:46 PM 10/19/2013