German Boys' Clothes: Garments--Headwear Styles

Figure 1.--This girl and younger boy wear similar wide-brimmed sailor hats. Their older brother wears a boater. All three of these German children wear reefer jackets. I'm not sire how to date this, but would guess about 1910. The portrait was taken in Stolberg, Harz.

As with the French and English, there are a few headwear style especially associated with German boys. The most common is the alpine style often worn with Bavarian folk costumes like lederhosen outfits. Some German readers have mentioned a "Schirmmütze". We do note that sailor hats and caps were especially popular in Germany, as were sailor suits. Many German boys began scgool wearing either sailor hats and caps or peaked army style caps. We have also noted rather English-looking boaters. Various styles of flat caps were also popular. During the NAZI era boys wore their Hitler Youth caps with their uniforms. We have very limited information on German headwear at this time. We also do not know the German names for all of the different caps and hats. We note that the German word for cap was "mütze" and the name for many caps was formed as in English my simply adding a noun to it like "schülermütze" for school cap.

Alpine Beanies

We notice boys in Alpine areas wearing brightly colored beanies. We are not sure what they were called in the Alpine areas. Perhaps our German readers will know. We notice them mostly in Switzerland, but also see them in Austria and Germany. Some were done in colored sections, often with red an importnt part of the color combinations. Others were one in solid colors with embrodered Alpine designs such an Edelweiss. Most of the images show these caps ir rural areas, often worn by boys herding gots and other livestock. We have fojund a gew impages of city boys wearing them in Grmany, even boys dressed up in suits. e suggest this was primarily boys in Bavaria and other southern states. They were also worn with Tracht. Men would wear Alpine hatsand boys these beanies. After Wotld war II these beanies generally disappeared, at keast in Gemany. Boys wering Tracht tended to wear the Alpone hats like their fathers. Today if you do an internet search for 'Alpine beabis' what cones up is mostly stocking caps,an indicator as to how these beanies hve gone out of style.

Alpine/Tyrolean Hats

HBC has just begun to collect information on German boys' headwear. As with the French and English, there are a few headwear style especially associated with German boys. The most common is the alpine style often worn with Tracht, Bavarian folk costumes like lederhosen outfits. They were mostly done in green and on festive occassions wore with a feather. The are commonly clled lpine or Tyrolean hats.


Berets are generally associated with French boys. W have, however, noted some German boys wearing berets. We have realtively limited information here. The association with French boys was so string that when the NAZIs seized control of Alscae-Loraine in 1940, they prohibited the wearing of berets. That was just in Alsace-Loraine. The beret was not prohibited in the rest of the Reich. There were few boys there, however, that wanted to wear berets. Even so we have occasionally seen German boys wearing berets as well. While not common, they were worn. We have little chronological information, but have begun to collect some information. In particular we have noted them in the immediate post-War era. We note photographs of German boys wearing berets in the 1940s. A factor here may be the adoption of the beret as part of the Scout movement which was reestablished in Germany inthe 1940s. We note, for example, a German boy in a rural village wearing a beret in 1955. Berets are no longer worn by German boys, except perhaps some Scout groups.


We have also noted rather English-looking boaters. A good example is an unidntified boy bout 1910.

Flat Caps

We have only limited information on flat caps worn by German boys. We note several images of German boys wearing a variety of flat cap styles. Various styles were worn. The flat cap does not, however seem nearly as popular in Germany for boys as it was in America or even Britain. This may be vecause of our still limited number of German images, however, our initial assessment is that flat caps were worn, but only some boys had them. They may have had the image of a working-class style. In particular we do not note the style being worn extensively during the NAZI era (1932-45). We wonder id the style was not liked by the NAZIs. We see a few images from the 1950s of boys wearing flat caps, but the style had dissapeared by the 1960s.

Fur Cap

Children wore fur caps in cold weather. Fur was a relatively expensive item so fur caps would have been worn by children from affluent families. A good example is an unidentified boy from Bautzen. He wears it with a fur-trimmed cape.

Hitler Youth Headwear

All of the Hitler Youth headwear styles were caps rather than hats. The Hitler Youth has had different styles of caps. There were was a military cap with a bill and a forage-style cap. The military cap with a bill appears to have been worn in the early ydars. The forage style cap was brown with red piping. There may have been other colors. It was worn with the Hitler Youth pin emblem at the front. Note the cap here (figure 1). For some reason it is a somewhat different color that the shirt, but we believe that both are brown. There was also a black ski-style cap worn with the Winter uniform. We have noted some other caps, but am unsure to what extent they were official uniform items.

Peaked Army Caps

We note some German boys wearing peaked military-style caps to school. These caps were called "schülermütze". This translates as school (schüler) and cap (mütze). The military style had a leather brim. I believe it appeared in the 1910s. By the 1930s it was going out of fashion. The color pattern of the cap indicated the year of secondary school that a boy belonged. The cap came in various colors. One German reader reports a dark green Schülermüze with a orange and yellow band and a black brim.

Rounded-crown Hats

We note rounded-crown hats in the mid-19th century. We are not yet sure, however, how common they were. They may have been worn into the late-19th century, but we can not yet confirm this. This was a boy's style, primarily for school-age boy. The basic elements of these hats were a rounded crown and a narrow brim. The arch of the crown varied as did the brim. There were both soft and hard versions, but we have not yet found the soft version in Germany. There were a varirty of styles. They were made in vaious n\materials, including felt and staw. We tend to associate these hats more with America, but this may be as a result of our relarively small archive of 19th century German images.

Sailor Styles

Sailor hats and caps were especially popular in Germany, as were sailor suits. They were some of the most popular headwear for boys during thelate 19th and early 20th centuries. Many German boys began school wearing a wide variety of sailor hats and caps. The wide-brimmed sailor caps seem quite similar to those worn in other European countries and America. Popular styles of sailor caps followed the uniform styles of the Germany Navy. There were, however, a definite social class aspect to sailor suits and sailor headwear. They were especially popular with upper and middle-class families. Sailor hats were most common for younger boys and sailor caps for somewhat older boys.

Figure 2.--The Schirmmütze was the most popular cap for German boys in the 1940s. I do not think it was much worn in the 30s, except the later years of the decade. It may have become popular because it was a military and Hitler Youth style. A German reader recalls itb from a Swedish book. This mother in 944 has bought Schirmmütze for all three boys.


Some German readers have mentioned a "Schirmmütze". A "Schirmmütze" is simply a cap (Mütze) with a visor (Schirm). So a baseball cap can be a "Schirmmütze". The Germam usually use it to men a cap that was popular in the 1940s and 50s. A HBC reader reports, "I used to wear a blue Schirmmütze. I noticed an image of a boy wearing one on the long stocking page. My Schirmmütze was bought for me, because I liked the "Michel aus Lönneberga" (Swedish: Emil) books by Astrid Lindgren so much. My parents used to read the books to me and the main character wearing a Schirmmütze is pictured in them. I decided I wanted to wear one of them. You could open its sidewings. I wore it during the winter."

Smoking Caps

We do not know the English or German term. We are not at all sure what these caps were called. We have seen a similar cap made for adults, often with a tassle. They were called smoking caps. Of course the boys' caps would not be called this. We have seen catalogs that call them caps without a proper name. They seem to be hat crowns with out brims. This seems to have been a popular style during the late 19th century. We do not see them much in the 20th century, except the early 1900s. This was a fairly common style in America. We are less sure about Germany.

Soft Hats

We note German boys wearing a variety of different soft hats. It is not always clear what they look like because ogten the boys are not actually wearing them in the portrits wgere we see them. These soft hsts seem a summer style and became particularly popular after the turn of the 20th century. They seem to be a kind of sun hat. A good example is a hard to make out hat pictured with a Dresden boy.

Stocking Caps

We note images of German children wearing stocking or watch caps during the 1950s. They presumably wore these caps earlier, but we have no chronological information at the time. The early stocking caps were no doubt wool. Now some are made in synthetic fibers. The erlier images we note are black and white and we are this unsure about the colors. More recent caps are made in many bright colors as well as patterns. The caps are normally worn with poms. They were worn by both boys and girls. I am not sure about age trends, but seem to be most popular with primary school age children. In Germany and Austria stocking caps are called Eine Pudelmütze. "Pudel" is a dog and Mütze is a cap. Sometimes they are just called simply eine Mütze.


German boys at the turn of the century, like many European boys, at the time also wore tams. I do not know what the German term for tams was. We note that the French called them Scottish berets, the Germans may have done this also. We are unsure how common tams were, but we have noted a few images of German boys wearing them. They were worn by primary school age boys. As far as we can tell the tams worn by German boys had poms and streamers as was the case. We are not sure about the colors. The available shows a black or very dark-colored tam. I think they were worn by both boys and girls, but cannot yet confirm this. We note being worn in the erly 20th century before World War I (1914-18). We believe they were also worn in the late 19th century.

Zeppelin Caps

Zepplins were the lighter-than-air dirigibles invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The LZ1 made its initial flight at the turn of the 20th century from a floating hangar on Lake Constance, near Friedrichshafen in Southern Germany, on July 2, 1900 before the first flight of an airplane by the Wright Brother in 1903. The Zeppelins were used for both commercial and military purposes. The huge, graceful Zepplins captured the public imagination. Thus some boys wore caps based on those of the crew. The reputation of the Zepplins were tarnished during World War I when they were used to bomb English cities. After the War, the Zepplins were used for aerial excursions in Germany. They proved o successul hat regularly scheduled passenger flights began across the Atlantic to Brazil and the United States. In demonstration flights, the Graf Zeppelin traveled to the Arctic and to Palestine, and also circumnavigated the globe. The U.S.Navy acquired a Zeppelin as part of its own dirigible program. Zeppelins logged in over a million miles of passenger travel without loss of life. The passengers traveled in luxury accomodations. The tragic explosion of the "Hindenburg" (LZ129) on May 6,1937, and the onset of World War II ended the Zepplin program, although some new smaller Zepplins were built in th 1990s.

School Styles

As the different styles of caps were worn by boys, they were also won to school. Some were more coimmon school wear than others. For specific details about school headwear we have developed a page specifically focused on school headwear.


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Created: March 5, 2002
Last updated: 5:35 PM 6/24/2014