*** skirted schoolwear garments

Schoolwear Garments: Skirted Garments

skirted school garments

Figure 1.--This cabinet card portrait shows a boy at an unidentified British school wearing an full Higjland outfit including sporsn and kilt for his class portrait. The teachers were clearly impressed and have placed him front and center. We are not sure about how his classmates thought. Unfortunately there is no studio logo so we are not sure where in Britain the portrait was taken. We suspect it was an English school, but there is no way to know. Kilts were of course more common in Scotland, but quite a number of middle-class English boys had a dressup kilt outfit at the time. Wearing the kilt outfits to school was less common, but here children look very young, perhapa a kindergarden group. The portrait is not dated, but looks to us like the early-1880s.

Skirted garments are today in most countries primrily associated with girls, but in fact boys as well s girls over tim e have worn a variety of skirted garments to school. This has varied from country to country and chronologically. Age was anoyher fctor. The primary skirted garmnts are kilts, tunics, smocks, and pinafores. Two of these garments were specifically for boys, kilts and tunics. Kilts were worn by boys in several countries, but were only a school grment of any importanc in Scotland. Kilts were only worn by boys, but plaid skirts became very ppular scgool garments for girls in many countries. Tunics were only worn by boys and unlike kilts were worn by boys throughout Europe. Unfortuntely, they began to decline in popularity for school wear at about the time that photogrphy became common. Smocks became a popular school garment in the late-19th cntury, but only in a few countries. Unlike kilts and tunics, smocks were worn by both boys and girls. Pinafores were a very popular school item in the19th centuy. They were worn mostly by girls, but some younger boys alsp wore pinafores. Of course skirts and dresses are the twomist common skirted garmnt. And bothwere exclusively worn by girls as school garments. Young boys through the 19th century did wear both garmnts, but not for school wear with few exceptions even in the 19th century.


Many Scottish and even a few Irish schools employed the kilt. A few made it required wear. I am not sure how commonly it was worn in Scotland. Some reports from Scotland suggest that it was fairly common in elementary schools, especilally in the smaller towns and villages, through the 1950s. Boys were allowed the option of wearing kilts instead of long or short pants and kilts were farly common at many schools. While less common in secondary schools, most schools reqwuired kilts for special occasions. This became less common in the 1960s, except at private schools. Because of the cost, at most private Scottish schools it is now only required on special occasions and Sundays.


The new French Third Republic in 1873 began to transform France into a more democratic society. One of the reforms was to expand the state school system and to improve the educational opportunities of working class children. One of the reforms was to establish a smock uniform to cover a child's clothes to reduce obvious economic distinctions. Smocks were commonly worn by French school boys until the 1950s when they began to be less commonly worn. Smocks were also worn in Italy as well as many other countries, including Algeria, Argetina, Palentine, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and other countries.


The tunic was a major school garment during the 19th centuy. It was especially common in the early-19th century. This was, however, before photograpy was invented And evn in the mid-19th cntury as photogrphy was expanding, we have relatively few school images. Tunics were worn throuhout the 19th and into the early-20th century. This was primarily by younger children so even after photography became more common, we do not see many in schools. We see a lot of portraits of American children wearing tunics, but very few wearing them to school. This may be in part a social-class function with the tunic being less common for working-class children. We do see tunics in Eastern and Centrl Europe. We are not sure, however, about the chronology because our image archive is vitully non-existent for the early-19th and very limited for the late-19 century. We notice one unidentified German boy wearing a tunic with velvet trim about 1892. The Russian peasant dress, esentially tunics, were the inspiration for the Russian blouse tunics commonly worn in Wetern Europe and America during the early-20th century.


Pinafores were widely worn by girls to school in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often mothers insist their girls wear pinafores to protect their dresses. The crisply starched white pinafore became almost a symbol of girls' school wear in Britain, the United States, and other countries. The pinafore survived until quite recently in some countries like Russia. Finally after the demise of the Soviet Union, girls began to refuse to continue wearing them. Younger boys in the 19th century also wore pinafores, but by the time that free state schools were opening to children, this fashion had begun to decline. Some schools in the late 19th century still required them for the girls and younger boys. snow.


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1840s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]

Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers] [Blazer] [School sandals]

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Created: 1:48 AM 5/5/2015
Last updated: 8:35 PM 2/13/2017