Belgian schoolboys over the years have worn a wide variety of styles and garments. Boys in the late 19th century generally wore kneepants. Sailor suits were very common. Many boys wore smocks. Fauntleroy suits were popular with mothers, but probably not commonly worn to school. Short pants began to be worn in the 1900s with the advent of the Scout movement. School uniforms were not common in Belgium and as a result svhoolwear is generally a reflection of ordinary boys' clothes. Some private Catholic schools did require uniforms. Boys have worn many different types of clothes to school. Most boys into the 1960s wore short pants, but knickers were also worn until the 1950s. Sailor suits were still popular, although not as much as at the turn of the century. Many types of hosiery were worn. Boys wore both ankle and kneesocks. White socks were popular. Some boys wore long over the knee stockings. Shorts were very commonly worn by the 1920s. Older boys might wear knickers. Smocks were commonly worn by school children through the 1940s.
Belgian boys ike French boys wore berets. They went out of fashion, however, after World WarII. Sailor hats of varying styles were common in the years before World Wat I (1914-18). Sailor suits were still worn after the War, but sailor hats and caps were not nearly as common. After World War II, Catholic schools in French speaking Belgium adopted a new style of cap, similary to military caps worn by some during the War. The cap was called "une toque". It was commonly worn from 1950-70. It was also adopted by a few choir groups as part of their uniform. Interstingly it wasimilar to the caps worn by the Young Pioneers in Communist countrues.
HBC believes that smock became common in Belgium at about the same time as in France--the 1870s. We have, however, very little actual information. Very limited information is available at this time on Belgian smocks. We do not know if the smocks were introduced by law. This was the case in France when smocks were introduced by the French Third Republic as a measure to make the schools more eqalitarian. Behlgium of course was a monarchy. Thus we do not know if smocks appeared in Belgium by government decree or just the cultural influence of France. Some indivisual schools may have required them. We do not yet have a large enough Belgian archive to know how common it was. Or to know if smocks were required or just an option available to parents. We do know that large numbers of Belgian school children did wear smocks. The styles we see at mid-century seem all back-buttoning smocks. We do not see white collars and nows, but our archive is very limited. Some images suggest tht they wserw not required. HBC believes that the styles and popularity was similar in France and Belgium, at least among French speakers. I'm not sure to what extent smocks were worn in Flanders. Smocks were commonly worn by school children through the 1940s. We do not see them to any extent in the 50s.
Many boys before World War II (1939-45) still dressed formally. Boys wore kneepants, short pants, knicker, and longbpamts suits to school. They wore both the single and double breasted style. Sone boys wore suits with very small jackets.
Boys in the late 19th century generally wore kneepants.
Short pants began to be worn in the 1900s with the advent of the Scout movement. They were wide worn by boys into the 1960s.
Boys also wore knickers in the first half of the 20th century. Often they were worn by older boys, but some younger boys had knicker suits as well. Short pants, however, were more popular for the younger boys.
Generally only older boys wore long pants in the fit\rstvhalf of the 20th century. In the 1960s it began to be more commn for younger boys to wear long pants.
Sailor suits were very common in the late 19th and early 20th century. We believe that boys very commonly wore them to school, even younger teengaers. They declined in popularity after World War I (1914-18), but were still widely worn in the 1920s. Most boys wore kneepants or short pants sailor suits. Sailor suits with knickers were lesscommon. They were normally worn with long stockings or kneesocks. Both blue and white suits were worn. They was a much wider variety of styling than was common in America.
Fauntleroy suits were popular with mothers, but probably not commonly worn to school.
Many types of hosiery were worn. Boys wore both ankle and kneesocks. White socks were popular. Some boys wore long over the knee stockings. One school photograph from the 1920s shows only one boy wearing over the knee stockings. I'm not sure if this was because the weather was warm or because it was not a popular style. Many boys wore whiteankle and kneesocks.
Most Belgian boys wore leather shoes to school. Sandals do not appear to have been very popular.
School uniforms were not common in Belgium and as a result shoolwear is generally a reflection of ordinary boys' clothes. Some private Catholic schools did require uniforms. We see some boys wearing unidorms with militsry-styled touches. This included peaked cadet caps. We do not know much about these uniforms. They look somewhat like similar uniforms we have seen in France. This was niot a national style. We suspect they may have been theuniforms at private secondary schools, probably Catholic schools. They were generally quite simple uniforms, sweaters, white shirt, short pants and kneesocks. Elaborate school uniforms as worn in Britain were not common,
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]
Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Smocks] [Berets] [Long pants suits] [Shortpants suits]
[Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers]
[Blazer] [School sandals]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Page
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Created: August 16, 2000
Last updated: 8:34 PM 10/8/2009