HBC at this time has little detailed information on Belgian school uniforms and attire. Hopefully Belgian contributors to HBC will provide some detailed infprmation. HBC believes that Belgian boys began wearing smocks at about the same time as French boys in the 1870s. This is just specualtion, however, at this time. I'm not sure when Belgian boys began wearing kneepants, probably in the 1860s. They were widespread and normally worn with three-quarter length socks by the 1870s. Short pants appeared with the Scout movement in the 1900s and began replacing kneepants by the 1910s. School uniforms were not common in Belgium. but were required by some private catholic schools. Shorts were very commonly worn by the 1920s. Older boys might wear knickers. Smocks were commonly worn by school children through the 1940s, but declined in popularity in the 1950s. Shorts dominated boys' wear throughout the 1950s, but began to be replacec by long pants in the late 1960s. Some conservative schools still required shorts pants in the 1980s, but this had largely disappeared by the 1990s. One report suggests that in the 2000s, some schools are inroducing British-styled uniforms.
HBC believes that Belgian boys began wearing smocks at about the same time as French boys in the 1870s. This is just specualtion, however, at this time. HBC has no information on Belgian school policies concerning clothing. By the 1890s Belgian school boys in smocks are virtually indistinguishable from French boys. I'm not sure when Belgian boys began wearing kneepants, probably in the 1860s, again about the same time as French boys. They were widespread and normally worn with three-quarter length socks by the 1870s. Other than smocks I do not have any information on Belgian schools requiring uniforms. There may have been a few military schools.
There have been great changes in Belgian boys' school clothing during the 20th centurty. We have more 20th century photographs taken at Belgian schools. These available images clearly show the trends in Belgian schools. We believe that smocks were still commonly worn at Belgian schools in the early 20th century. Some were worn with Eton collars and floppy bows. Sailor suits were also very popular. Short pants appeared in Belgium with the Scout movement in the 1900s. We have no information on shorts being worn in Belgium before the advent of Scout shorts. Short pants appeared with the Scout movement in the 1900s. I have no information on shorts being worn in Belgium before the advent of Scout shorts. Most boys at the turn of the century wore kneepants. Sailor suits were very popular for schoolwear. Shorts had begun replacing kneepants by the 1910s. We have few details on Belgian school uniforms at mid-century. Smocks were still commonly worn in the 1940s, although I do not know if schools required them. We do not think that state schools required uniforms, but some private schools did have mandatory uniforms. Most Belgian boys at mid-century wore short pants. Smocks declined in popularity in the 1950s. Some conservative schools still required shorts pants in the 1980s, but this had largely disappeared by the 1990s. While there were no uniforms, Many primary boys in state schools did wear short pants to school in the 1970s. Wearing shorts to school even in primary schgools declined in popularity during the 1980s. This was especially true of the colder Winter months.
A HBC contributor reports: "It may interest you to know that during a visit to Belgium last summer, thedaughter of a guy I was staying with went to a school where uniform - including straw boater--was the norm. He was telling me that an increasing number of schools were introducing typical British-style uniforms. A couple of days into my visit, we went into the centre of Ghent (in East Flanders) and I was amazed to see girls AND boys leaving a couple of schools in uniform. The boys were wearing grey uniforms, including
short trousers and it looke just like a scene from England. The shorts were much longer than they used to be in Belgium in the 70s and 80s though, when they were approaching swimming-trunk-sized proportions!" HBC presumes that the schools with uniforms are private schools. HBC does not yet have any reports of state schools requiring uniforms.
Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Main Chronology Page]
[The 1880s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s]
[The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]
Created: August 15, 2000
Last updated: 8:06 PM 10/8/2009