Algerian Boys' Clothes: French Colonial Styles (1830-1962)


Figure 1.--This photograph was taken in Bou-Sa‚da, an Algerian Town 250 km South of Algiers with about 300,000 inhabitants. It was an oasis town known as "gate of desert". A French colonial garrison was located at Bou-Sa‚da. The photo shows a class of the primary school Challon during 1949-50. The school was attended both by French and Algerian children. What is notable is that each wore his traditional clothing. For example many Algerian boys in the photo wear the fez and a pupil in the front row wears a French beret. The Algerian boys wear baggy trousers, the French boys short pnts. The French boys wear shoes or sandals and all Algerians seem barefoot. This is very different from schools in the major cities where the Algerian boys commonly wore French-styled clothing. It is also possible that ome of the Algrian boys are wearing French-styled clothing. Put your cursor on the image to see the rest of the class.

We note French and Algerian boys dressing very differehtly although there was some overlap in the major cities. French citizens settled in Algeria, primarily in the cities, and some Algerians in the cities adopted French customs and dress. The styles worn by French Algerians were little different than those worn in Metropolitan France. This varied chronologically depending on the styles in France. It is very difficult to dirrerentiate between French boys in Algeria and metropolitan France. French children did not adopt Arab styles. Many Algerian children in the cities dressed in French styles, although long pants were more common than was the case for French children. A French reader tells us, "In Algeiers and other big cities, most of the children were dressed in French styles. Algerian children in rural areas were more likely to wear traditional styles. We do not have details at this time on these traditional styles. One Algerian style was adopted by French mothers. A baby garment had an Algerian origin and is called : "Burnou". It was popular with French mothers from the early 20th century through the 1960s. It was a sort of cape with a hood made in wool. This garment was very practical: quick put on and take off.

French Boys

French citizens settled in Algeria, primarily in the cities, and some Algerians in the cities adopted French customs and dress. The styles worn by French Algerians were little different than those worn in Metropolitan France. We notice styles in the mid-19th century including berets, smocks, and short pants including bib-front shorts (figure 1). This varied chronologically depending on the styles popular in France. It is very difficult to dirrerentiate between French boys in Algeria and metropolitan France. French children did not adopt Arab styles.

Algerian Boys

Many Algerian children in the cities dressed in French styles, although long pants were more common than was the case for French children. A French reader tells us, "In Algeiers and other big cities, most of the children were dressed in French styles. Algerian children in rural areas were more likely to wear traditional styles. We do not have details at this time on these traditional styles. One Algerian style was adopted by French mothers. A baby garment had an Algerian origin and is called : "Burnou". It was popular with French mothers from the early 20th century through the 1960s. It was a sort of cape with a hood made in wool. This garment was very practical: quick put on and take off. It was elegant with the baby dresses or rompers . Normaly two pompons were place at the neck and one other at the hood." Children in rural areas were more likely to dress in traditional clothing.








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Created: 9:17 PM 10/2/2008
Last updated: 9:18 PM 10/2/2008