German pinafore gender -- Germany Kinderschuerze

German Pinafores: Gender

Figure 1.--This image is unidentifoed except that we know itvis German. The photograph was probably taken in the 1920s. The girl wears a teaditional pinafore while the boys wears a pinafore smock that we have seen a number of younger German boys wear during this period. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

We are not yet sure of the gender conventions here, but at first believed that these pinafore smocks may have been worn by both boys and girls. We have since noted only boys wearing this garment, often with girls wearing more traditional pinafores. We are thus increasingly coming to the conclusion that this style was a boys' garment, but our archice is very limited. This is, however, just a preliminary assessment at this time. Note that the girls' pinafore do not normally have a front pocket, while these boys' pinafore-smocks often do have front pockets.


This is another photo with no identifying marks. HBC believes, however, that it is German. Both the children and the cart, for example, look rather German. Also notice the shaved head. The children look to be 5-6 years of age. Note the front pocket the boy has on his pinafore smock and the absence of such a pocket on the girl's pinny. He does not wear a shirt, but may be wearing long pants--it is difficult to tell. The girl as was often the case wears a more traditional smock. She looks to be wearing long stockings. The material of both rge girl's pinafore and the boys' pinafore-smock looks to be a similar, but not identical printed calico. Note that the detailing on both garments is similar, but not identical. It is likely that both garments were made by their mother. We believe that the photograph was taken in the 1920s. It is an interesting picture in that this is probably how these children looked every day in summer. Notice the device by the sataircase that the girl has her foot on. This was a booy scraper to allow people, especially men, to scrape the mud off their feet before coming into one's house.


HBC has no information at this time about German boys wearing traditionally styled pinafores. After the turn of the centuty, however, we do seem numerous examples of German boys wearing pinafore-type pinafore smocks. This is not a style we have noted in England and France. These simple and inexpensive pinafores generally buttoned at the shoulders and were made in variety of colors. As far as we can tell the pinafore and pinafore smock for boys in Germany was essentially a practical garment for home wear, to help mutter keep the children's clothes clean. The few available images we have show these garments being worn at home.


While both boys and girls in Germany wore pinafores, the garment was much more common for girls. We see girls wearing a wide variety of stules. We note some girls wearing starched while pinafores like we have seen in America and Britain, somrtimes domes with frills and ruffles. More commonly we note German girls wearing utilitarian pinafores, often done in colors and prints. Many girl's pinafores were done in fairly standard styles. Here the cut and detailing could vary substantially. Variations at the shoulder and nuxk were the most common variables. We see a greater variety of pinafores in Germany than any other country. These colored and print garments seem to have often been worn around the house and often to school, we think mostly to primary school. These pinafores seem to have been very common through the World War II era, but declined in popularity after the War.


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Created: August 26, 2002
Last updated: 11:06 PM 1/6/2006