Figure 1.--Here are a boy's and girl's smock. Note how the larger girl's smock has waist bands that tie in a bow at the back like a girl's smock. The boy's smock also has waist bands, but they button in the back. Note the more elaboratre trim on the girl's smock. These were typical styles worn in the 1940s and 50s.
Both boys and girls in France have worn smocks. There were differences, however, between the genders in the wearing of smocks. HBC is not yet sure about styling of 19th century and early 20th century smocks, but by the 1930s there were some clear differences between boys' and girls' smocks and the age at which they were worn. Generally speaking in the 20th century, smocks were worn to an older age by girls than boys. There were also stylistic differences in the smocks. One of the principal differences were that girl's smocks tied in a bow at the back like many dresses. Young boys wearing rompers might have back tieing bows, but boys' school smocks did not. Some had waist bands that buttoned in the back, but they did not tie in the back like girls' smocks often did. There were also differences in the colors and patterns worn. The trim and detailing of boys' and girls' smocks also often varried. These differences varied over time.
The gender differences in French school smocks have varied over time. HBC is not yet sure about styling of 19th century and early 20th century smocks. Styling details on smocks during this era is a subject about which HBC needs more information. As aresult we can not yet comment on gender differences during this eraly period. Much of the information we have developed is about smocks and smock styles worn during the 1930s-60s. By the 1930s there were some clear differences between boys' and girls' smocks and the age at which they were worn. Both boys and girls wore back buttoning smocks in the 1930s-60s, but in the 1960s, biys began wearing smocks less commonly and the ones who continued wearing smocks more commonly wore the front-buttoning lab style.
Gender differences in smocks depended somewaht on the afe of the boy. We have realtively little information here about the smocks worn by boys in the late 19th and early 20th century. We do not know to what extent there were gender and age differences during this period. Generally speaking, however, by the 1930s there was increasing gender specilaization in smocks for school-age boys. Smocks were worn to an older age by girls than boys. Most young children wore smocks, but older girls were more likely to wear smocks than older boys. Most mothers from about 1930-60 chose smocks for boys through 8 years of age and they were still quite common to age 10 years. After age 10 fewer boys wore them. Girls still continued to commonlt wear smocks into their teens. There were also stylistic differences for the very young children going to nursery school. The styles of these smocks were less likely to be as gender specific as the smocks worn by older children. We have seen, for example, younger boys wearing smocks with back tieing bows that boys once out of nurseery school would not want to wear.
Figure 2.--This is a back view of the two smocks shown above. Notice the clear destinction in the boys' and girls' styles. The color of these two smocks, however, was almost an identical blue.
There were also stylistic differences in the smocks. After the 1960s, front buttoning smocks for boys became more common. But through the 1950s both boys and girls generally wore back buttoning smocks. While the both wore back buttoning smocks, there were generally recognized stylistic differences. One of the principal differences were that girl's smocks tied in a bow at the back like many dresses. Young boys wearing rompers might have back tieing bows, but boys' school smocks did not. Boys' smocks also had waist bands, but they buttoned in the back and did not tie in the back like girls' smocks often did. Many boys' smocks were collarless. Boys' smocks that did have collars generally had pointed collars while girls more commonly had rounded Peter-Pan collars.
There were also differences in the colors and patterns worn. This is difficult to develop. HBC has noted much more variation among colors and patterns than was the case for some of the stylistic variations. There has also been more variations over time. As HBC does not yet have extensive time-line information on Fench school smocks, we can not yet speak authoitatively on the gender connventions in colors and patterns. We beloeve, however that mothers afhered less strictly to these comventions that was the case for some of the stylistic convntions. Colors and paterns are indeed an important aspect of school smocks. HBC has, however, begun to collect some information on this topic and hopes tgo develop it in more detail as we acquire more information.
The trim and detailing of boys' and girls' smocks also often varried. Girl's smocks were more likely to have trim such as ruffles or lace. This trim was especially common around the collar or yoke. Boys might wear smocks with smocking and embroidered work, but this often tended to be more em\laborate on girl's smocks.
Some manufacturers offere smocks that could be worn by either boys or girls. In most cases these smocks were styled more like boys' smocls than girls' smocks.