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.
This could possibly be labeled a smock, bit because it does not cover the arms, it fits better under the pinafore designation. We do not yet know what this garment was called in German. We believe that it may have been called a "Kinderschuerze" (child's apron). Hopefully our German readers will give us some insights as to the proper term for this garment. One reader writes, "I can tell you what I've found in Breslauer Hausfrau magazines: it's seem that there wasn't special unique name for children's aprons,
mostly they were called just 'Shuerze'.
Unfortunately there are no identifying marks on this image on thus page at all (figure 1). So the only available image is what we can deduce from the image itself. HBC's identification of this image as German is admittedly a guess. It is based on the look of the sailor suits and having ssen German boys wearing this style of pinafore smocks. This is tenuosus at best because similar sailor suits were worn in many other European countries. The short cropped hair also suggests to us that this is not an English image, leading us to suspect that it is German. A German reader, however, writes, "The photograph of the 5 children playing, the 3 boys in pinafore smocks looks a little strange to me. [HBC note: Click on the image (figure 1) to see the full photograph our German reader is discussing.] I am not sure whether it is from Germany, but I do not know what country it might be from. Any country nearby. Does anybody know the picture on the wall? That may give more information. The style of the wall-carpet and of the doll buggy looks older than 1910 to me, may be it is earlier or from an remote area." An English reader tells us, however, that "From the layout of the back of this photo postcard, I would guess it was German too".
HBC has no information at this time about German boys wearing traditionally styled pinafores. After the turn of the 20th 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. Our chronological information on German pinafores, including pinafore smocks is still quite limited. German boys appear to have worn these pinafore smocks in the early 20th century, before World War I. We note some images show boys wearing long pinafore smocks, more like a butcher's apron. More common were the shorter length, very plain pinafore smock. One style buttoning at the shoulders is seen here which the boys wear over their sailor suits (figure 1). After World War I these pinafore smocks with a large front pocket became more common, but for pre-school boys.
Our chronological information on German pinafores, invluding pinafore smocks is still quite limited. We have no information on the 19th century yet. German boys appear to have worn these pinafore smocks in the early 20th century, before World War I (1914-18). The styles were very plain which appear ro be a kind of boy-styled pinarore. So far we have only noted these pinafores in the early 19th century. We believe that the image here is such an example. As a result we believe that the image here may show a pre-World War I example of German boys wearing this pinafore smock at home. Of course it is always possible that our prelimanary assessment may be flawed based on HBC's still limited number of early European photographs. After World War I they appear to have declined in popularity. We do note images of younger boys wearing them in the 1920s. We think they had generally disappeared by the 1930s, although some very youing boys mat have worn them. A German reader who was a boy in the 1930s-40s reports, "I was not aware of „pinafore“ = „Schürze“ in Germany. In my youth, 1935 up, I suppose they were no longer commonly worn."
Most of the images we have seen of German children wearing these pinafore-smocks or even nore obviously apron-type garments look to be working-class or lower middle-class children. We are not sure if this means that more affluent families were less likely to dress their children in these pinafore-smocks or were perhaps less likely to photograph them when they were wearing them. The image here is clearly an affluent middle-class family (figure 1). Such images, however, appear to be the exception rarher than the rule. As we have no information to go on other than these images, it is difficult to tell at this time.
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. Before World War I, school age boys might swear them, but after World War I they were exclusively worn by pre-school boys. Girls on the other hand might wear more traditioanlly styled pinafores other than around home, such as to school.
We have limited information here. We believe German girls did ear pinafores to school, but we are not sure about how common this was. We do not believe that German boys wore pinafore to school, but do not that some German boys wore pinfores at home. They were very basic styles, not the fancier styles will frills that girls wear. The reason German irls wore them was the same as in other countries, to protect clothes agains dirt. In Germany there have never been school uniform like in England. Pinafores were, however, very popular for girls to wear at school. A German reader tells us that some especially prestigious schools has particularly trendy pinafores. Other schools had rules about fancy pinafores and insisted on plain pinafores to discourage vanity on the part of the girls. Conventions seemed to have vaied widely in Germany and our information is still quite limited. We notice some German images with girls wearing plain pinafores and some with no pinaforeas
Generally we have noted pre-school German boys wearing these pinafore smocks. The great majority of available images show pre-school boys wearing these garments. The reason of course was to protect the clothing of the younger chikldren who had not yet learned to be careful with their clothes. We note in the image here taken, we believe, before World War I that school-age boys are wearing them as well. Note that the boys are wearing the garments while playing at home. We virtually never see boys wearing these garments at school, although girls very commonly wore pinafores to school. We have very few images of school-age boys wearing these gaerments. Another example is an unidentified rural boy, probably in the 1930s. He looks to be about 8 years old. An again he is pictured at home with the family.
We are not yet sire 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 wedaring this garment often with girls wearing more traditional pinafores. We are thus increasingly coming to the conclusion that this was a boys' garment. This is, however, just a preliminary assessment at this time.
Most of the images show German voys wearing this pinafore-smock with some kind of shirt and short pants. We have noted some boys not wearing shorts and other boys wearing long trousers, although this was less common.
A HBC reader has provided us a basic pattern drawin of smocks (Shuerze) advertized in Breslauer Hausfrau magazine. He says, "From the front side they looked like the pinafores that the boys pictured here (figure 1) are wearing, but back sides were difrent--depending on the type of buttoning."
One indication that Kinderschuerzen (pinafores) were a popular garment in Germany is their appsarnce in German literature. Rilke, a famous German poet, for example, mentions a worn out 'Kinderschuerze' in his poem "Blaue Hortensie" (1907).
A HBC reader reports a garment called " Hoseshuerze ". This would translate as something like "pinafore pants". They were advertised for 10-14 year old boys. They look rather like long pants versions of shortalls. Similar garments were called longalls in the United States. Other German terms included: " Gaertenshuerze " for 8-12 years old and " Kittelshuerze " which would translate as a "tunic smock". A German reader growing up in the 1930s-40s writes, "While I do not remember pinafores, I do recall something similar to what you mentioned as
" Hosenschürze ". This would translate as something like
"pinafore pants". It is a „Hosenschürze“/“Hosenschuerze“ in German, although I can’t remember this term ever being used. I have a photograph of myself and a friend in our garden climbing in a tree. We are not sure, but to HBC these look rather like bib-front shorts.
Jankowski, Tomek. E-mail, June, 20, 2003.
18879, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 21 (1924), nr 12;
8542, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 21 (1924), nr 33;
2026, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 18 (1921), nr 27;
1771, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 18 (1921), nr 22;
7623, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 11 (1914), nr 39;
7538, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 11 (1914), nr 38;
9383, Breslauer Hausfrau, Jg 12 (1915), nr 40.
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