School Uniform:  French School Smocks--Headwear

Figure 3.--This was one of a series of colorized commercial postcards showing these boys wearing school smocks with berets. Notice how the berets are pulled down. We think the photogrpher probably did this, but we see mny imges of boys doing this in available photographs. The postcard is undated, but looks like the late-1920s to us, perhaps about 1930. These boys have been dressed up with white collars for the commercil photo suit. White collars were not unknown, but it does not seem to have been very common in France, as it was in Italy. We believe the card was purchased and mailed in Belgium or the Netherlands, but it was made in France. Click on the image to see the message on the back. It is written in Dutch and very Flemish at the same time. It reads, "Vaderke, wanneer komt nog een keer bij ons. Ik heb van de week ook pluim gestoken, maar zal het nooit meer doen want ik heb slage van mijn pa gekregen. Vele kussen van verre en tot laters. Eugénie. François. That tranlates as "Vaderke, when do you come to us. This week I have "pluim gestoken" (I have no idea what that means), but I never will do it again, because I got spanked by my father. Many kisses from far away and until later. Eugénie, François. The Flemish use words that are not known in Holland. The card is from a child and sent to a friend or relation in Ghent, Belgium. Many Belgian but not Dutch boys wore smocks to school. What we do not know is if Eugénie/François wnt to a shop to select the card or if mother had some on hand. We are guesing that he selected the card. At the time there were no cards withsports or cartoon thems that would appeal to modern children.

We do not have a lot ofinormation as to the headwear worn with school smocks. We believe a lot of boys did not wear headwear to school. French boys in the late-19th Century well into the 20th Century, as best we can tell if they wore headwear to school, often wore berets. Our information on the 19th century is limited, but we note quite another of examples in the World War I era. We do not see any other type of headwear commonly worn with the school smocks. Other headwear might be worn during the winter, but still we see berets. Stocking caps were also worn in the north. A schoolboy with a a smock and beret became a virtual symbol of French boyhood, like flat caps and kniclkers in America. While girls also wore smocks, they did not wear berets. Berets were a boys' garment. Berets were still commonly worn in the 1940s, but began to declime after World War II. We do not see many in the 1950s, especilly after mid-decade. We do not see boys earing them in a cocky way like the military and Scouts. Rather they were often pulled down a bit, rather like American girls wore tams in the early-20th century. We mostly see boys wearing dark blue or black smocks. Theywere made from felt material.


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Created: 7:39 AM 7/21/2015
Last updated: 7:39 AM 7/21/2015