Knee socks were becoming increasingly common for German children beginning in the 1910s. We notice German boys commonly wearing knee socks through the 1950s. We note different terms being used for kneesocks in Germany. One term is "kinderstrümpfe", a general term for children's socks. The 1973 catalog page shown here uses that term. In the ad copy they are further described as "Kniestrumpf" which I think more specifically means knee socks. Groups like the Wandervogel and Scouts helped to popularize knee socks in the early 1900s. Long stockings were generally repalaced with kneesocks in the 1910s. Knee socks were more popular with older boys, but they might wear knickers rather than shorts during the winter. Most German boys wore knee socks by the 1920s. Unlike long stockings, black kneesocks were not common. We note white knee socks in the 1920s and they had a dressy image. Grey knee socks appear to have been more common. Parerned kneesocks appear in the 1930s, but we note were not worn with Hitler Youth uniforms. Kneesocks were commonly worn with suits, both short pants and knicker suits. Wandervogel, Scouts, and Hitler Youth boys almost always wore kneesocks as part of their uniforms. We note that some children rolled their knee socks down. After World War II, kneesocks were worn more seasonally. Even when not wearing short pants, some German boys wore knee socks during the winter. We note very colorful patterns becoming popular in the 1950s. Knee socks by the 1980s were no longer commonly worn by boys, except with folk outfits where short pants or knee-length lederhosen are worn. We have little written information about kneesocks in Germany. Available photographs, however, provide some information. Hopefully our German readers will provide more infornmation about German kneesocks.
We note different terms being used for kneesocks in Germany. One term is "kinderstrümpfe", a general term for children's socks. The 1973 catalog page shown here uses that term. In the ad copy they are further described as "Kniestrumpf" which I think more specifically means kneesocks.
Groups like the Wandervogel and Scouts helped to popularize kneesocks in the early 1900s. The Wandrvogel was probably more important
We do not yet have detailed information on the chonology of kneesocks in Germany. We can only make some assessments using the images we have archived. It is a little hard to tell much about the 19th century because boys either wore long pants or ling-length kneepants. Short pants became widely worn in the 20th century and thus we have much more information. We note mostly long stockings and three-quasrter lngth socks being worn in the early 20th century. We see kneesocks in the 1910s and they were very common after World War I. Both kneesocks and long stockings were worn in the inter-War era. Long stockings wer especially common in the Winter, bout both kneesocks and long stockings were worn throughut the year. Long stockings were generally repalaced with kneesocks after World War II, but long stockinfs were still worn in the lare 40s ad erarly 50s. Kneesocks were more popular with older boys, but they might wear knickers rather than shorts during the winter. Most German boys wore kneesocks by the 1950s, ben in the Winter. Kneesocks by the 1980s were no longer commonly worn by boys, except with folk outfits where short pants or knee-length lederhosen are worn.
German boys wore different color knee socks. Unfortunarely when short pants and knee socks were most common, photography was mostly black and white. Thus the photographic record does not give us a lot of information about color. We think grey knee socks were by far the most common. We do not think boys commonly wore brightly colored knee socks, but our infornatiin here is very limited. We are less sure about other colors. We can make out black and white knee socks. Unlike long stockings, black knee socks were not common. We notice a few boys wearing black knee socks , but mostlt with suits. White knee socks were more common than black knee socks. We note white kneesocks in the 1920s and they had a dressy image. Grey kneesocks apear to have been more common. Parerned kneesocks appear in the 1930s, but we note were not worn with Hitler Youth uniforms. We also see white knee socks being worn with sailor suits and for dressy occassions like First Communion. Several boy choirs had uniforms with white knee socks. White knee socks had a dressy immage, but we do not just see them worn with suits. Some boys wore white knee socks to school. And we see boys wearing white knee socks for smart casual events as suits began to decline in popularity.
At first German boys mostly wore solid colored knee socks when they became popular in the 1920s. The more common long stockings were also traditionally solid colors. We begin to see German boys wearing patterened kneesocks in the 1930s, but solid colors were more common. Patterned knee socks became very common after World War II. They were were widely worn by German boys. We rarely see them in some other countries like Britain where knee socks were common. American boys did commonly wear patterned knee socks with knickers during the 19309s, but not with short pants. We are mot entirely sure about the colors because our informatiion is mostlyvfrom period photography which is mostly black and white. There were a wide range of paterns. We are not sure how to describe the patterns, but we see a few boys wearng argyles. Most seem to have non-descript patterns. The different styles of kneesocks were available in a 1973 German clothing catalog show the variety of colorful patterns that were worn at the time (figure 1). By this toime, however, knee socks were rapidly declining in popularity for boys.
Kneesocks were commonly worn with suits, both short pants and knicker suits. Wandervogel, Scouts, and Hitler Youth boys almost always wore kneesocks as part of their uniforms.
We note tht some children rolled their kneesocks down. Most boys pulled their kneesocks up to the knee. We note in the 1920s that some boys were rolling them down to their ankles. A good example is three brothers about 1920. Some of the rolled down socks ay be long stockings as well. We see this through the 1930s as well, but rarely after World War II.
I am not sure why this became so common. A reader writes, "Why do you think that they have rolled
their white stockings down? Perhaps because it is summer time and they are being deliberately more informal?" We have very limited information at this time. We think it may have been to some extent a seasonal matter as it was more comfortable in hot weather. But we also believe it became something as a style. While some younger boys rolled their socks down, we seem to see it most commonly with teenagers. But here we need more information to reach any firm conclusions.
We note some German boys wearing knee socks with tassels. We frst note tassels in the 1930s when they became a popular adornment for sweaters. Germany was not the only country where tassels became popular, but the photographic record suggests to us that the fashion was especially popular in Germany. We begin seeing tassels on knee socks in the 1940s, especilly after Wold war II. They seem to hve been most common on white kneesocks. Many seem to be hand knitted. Both boys anf girls son them. We seem to see boys up go zbout 10-11 yeas of age wearing these tasseled knee socks. We continue to see them into the 1960s. We thought that these tassels were basically an ornamental fashion without any practical fuction. We wonder though if they were fashioned to servee as garters to hold up the knee socks.
After World War II, kneesocks were worn more seasonally. Even when not wearing short pants, some German boys wore kneesocks during the winter.
Related HBC Hosiery Pages:
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[Return to the main Main national knee sock page]
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