German Knee Pants: Destinctive Features

Figure 1.-- Here we see a German boy with bo\bbed hair in the 1920s. He wears suspender knee pants. Notice the white leg hem buttons. Usually the buttons were smaller and the same color as the pants. We notice some fashionable youngdr boys with white buttons added as destinctive styling in the 1910s and 20s. This is a studio portait so the sailboat is likely a prop. A reader writes, Notice the modern looking shoes and socks. Also the shorts appear to button to the blouse or maybe a leibchin under the blouse. I think the boy is about 7 years old." The shoes are interesting. They seem to have rather high heels. We are not sure how common thast was. Anotgher reader writes, "There is another interesting feature of the blouse. There is indistinct writing on the front, like a modern day T-Shirt. Have you seen that before, on a pre-war garments?" Well it looks like it might be writing, but we don't think it is. Notice the decoration at the sleeve hem and collar. We think the blouse front decorstion is an elaboration of this same decoration. Actual writing would be very unusual in the 1920s.

We have relatively limited information on knee pants in Germany. We are unsure if there were any destinctive aspect of German knee pants. Knee pants had the the same common features noted in other countries. Fiest and most obvuiosly were the leg hem buttons. Not all knee pants had them in the 19th century, but they were very common. We still do not who created these pants, but they became popular throuhout Europe and North America. Nor do we know why they as in other countries vthe style was so popular. The buttons obviously relate to 19th century knee beeches, but why was this style revived for boys in the mid-19th century. Second was the knee length. Early knee pants were longer, but by the 1880s the pants began to be made cut a knee level. Third was the straight leg cut, often quite trim fitting in contrast to knickers which could blouse out considerably. Fourth was the open leg hem also in contrast to knickers whioch were closed at the knee hem. It is difficullt to destinguish between knee pants and long short pants. The knee buttons is the main destinguisjing feature. Most shorts were cut long in the 1920s, especially those worn by older boys. These two garments essentially merged as the hem buttons disappeared and the hem got shorter during the 1930s.


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Created: 8:06 PM 1/27/2007
Last updated: 7:36 AM 3/22/2011