French Boys Garments: Infants

Figure 1.--This article about infant bibs appeared in the ??? issue of ???. It shows the beautifully embroidered bibs popular for babies.

French readers have provided some information about infantwear. Important garments include christeming robes, cache couche, and bibs. Rompers have also become infantwear although they were earlier worn by todlers and pre-school age boys.


Christenting Robes

A French reader reported in 2002 that she had noticed a come back in the popularity of the christening dress for boys.

Cache Copuche

After World War II, a very popular fashion for infant was the " cache couche " for boys. The " cache-couche " for boy 0-2 years ; 100 percent% of the little French boy wore them in the 1960s and 70s. It was a sort of romper, very easy to use and hiding their diaper. This garment was only for boy baby and was rather smart.


A French reader suggests that the " bavoir " ( bib ) should ve mentioned on HBC, All French babies had a bavoir. Sime were in fact, despite their use,. quite luxurious garments. These were generaly gifts. They were very practical to prevent an infant from soiling his or her clothes. They were too models and only one size and were made in white, sky (blue), or pink. The bavoir classique was round. The bavoir américain ( American bib) was [? in luxury matching]. This fashion endured for years, but dissappeaded about 1968. They were common gifts for a child's birthday. It was given a gold-pin to attach in front the bib. These beautifull bavoirs were often hand-made with the finest emboidery. A HBC reader writes, "I found a traditional romper without collar, but a white collar could be attached. At the back of the romper there was two little buttons to close it at the back. Normaly this bib was worn for meals but also in the street because it was a fashionably done bib. Such bibs were very popular before and after the war. Very often these bibs were given as a present by the family. All the french baby had got at less one bib. On these bibs, if the money permiting, one found a big gold pin. On it the baby's name and birthday was engraved. A day about 1972 my wife had put my gold baby pin on the dress collar of my daughter and unfortuntly we lost it. I was quite sad becvause it was a treasured family heirloom. I wanted to pass it on to my children and granchildren." Another French reader reports, "I have several bibs that I and my brother and sister wore. I don't know which of us wore them. One is a very light blue. It mist have been worn by my brother. These bibs had beautiful embroidery and were exceptional works requiring a considerable effort."


Rompers have become infantwear, for both bous and girls, although they were earlier worn by todlers and pre-school age boys.


Baby boys would wear short pants or rompers, often white ones with light blue embroidery or trim. Baby girls wore a short wool dress, normaly white perhaps with light pink embroidery. Other garments like gilets, bibs, scks, and shoes might be the same for both boys and girls. A French reader tells us that babies also mught wear a " pointe de cou " still in use in early 1960s. I'm not sure what that meant in English.

Girls' Education

French baby clothes also had beautiful hand embroidery. This was possible because embroidery as well as sewing and knitting was taught to girls in French schools until the 1970s. The requirement was dropped as part of the school reforms folloywing the Paris School Riots in 1968. There were also classes in the care of children too. As a result, French mothers generally had the same attitude in all part of France about this subject. A French reader tells us, "What we can say is that all our sisters and mothers were able to do this work properly. Today it is different. The majority of French women are now unable to sew, knit and still less do embroidery. The knowlefge about caring for children is learned here or there or from their own mothers and magazines. In past years, no mother would ever leave a child in the sun without a hat under the sun or with the back uncovered. They taught that a little boy could have the same sort style of clothes as the little girls. They also taught that the children should have their legs free and uncovered for their health. Perhaprs it was the raison why boys so commonly wore short pants and girls short dresses." These lessons were abandoned at the end of the 1960s. Before they were compulsory for all girls 12-14 years old and were included in the their school grades. I think these lessons were initiated in the early 20th century, but I am not sure. A French reader who was born in 1948 reports that when she began secondary school in 1960 that lessons on sewing and emboidery were compulsory for girls 12-14 years old, but these classes were less emphasized than in the past. They were only about 1 hour per week and there were no longer lessons on child care. A reader who attended secondary school ealier in the 1950s reports that these lessons were compulsory and extended many hours per week. Child-care classes were included. A French reader writes, "Don't forget that we were in baby boom period and the children had a big place in our society. We French had a distinct concept of childhood. In this period a child in France was realy considered as a child and not as an adult. There was a real frontier between children and adults. It was accepted that childern were not to be dressed with an adult look. Children were obliged to use a "child language" and were also obliged to follow specific traditional children's manners-- " les bonnes manières " . The ideal was the model child--the "enfants modèles".


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Created: May 9, 2002
Last updated: 5:51 PM 2/23/2006