German Boys' Clothes: Play Suits

Figure 1.--This German snapshot looks to be taken in the 1920s. The older boy wears a kind of tunics with short pants, white socks, and strap shoes. The younger boy wearsa one-piece suit. Note the girl wears a dress rather than a play suit. Note the bangs and cropped hair the boys wear. Image courtesy of the BP collection.

We note German boys wearing a variety of play suits in the early 20th century. They were especially popular in the 1920s. Some could be used fboth for dressing up and for play. We are not entirely sure what some of these outfits were called. We see some other styles after World War II (1939-45). They were worn by both pre-school as well as boys in the first few year of school. They were not, however, worn to school. They were worn for play, especially during the warm summer months. They are quite a wide range of different play suits. They included both one- and two-piece suits. We notice a varirty of different styles including rompers and Russian blouse styles. Later styles include bib-front overalls and shortalls. Interestingly these play suits were primarily for boys. Girls mostly wore dresses--even for play. They might wear a pinafore to protect their dresses when playing. Very young boys might also wear a pinafore like garment. Boys often wore white socks. German boys rarely wore sneakers. We note many boys wearing strap shoes with these playsuits. Many of the early playsuit outfits become less common in the 1930s, especially after the NAZIs seized power in 1933. We see other styles becoming popular after World war II.


We see a snapshot of a German boy wearing what look like a short pants coverall outfit, kind of a cross between bib-front overalls and shortalls. There may have also been longpants coveralls, but our information is very limited at this time. Coveralls do not neem to be a real common outfit for German boys, but we do see a few photographs of boys wearing them. The few images we have found are younger boys, but we do not have enough images at this time to assess the age conventions.

Romper Suit

We see quite a number of German boys wearing romper suits. They were not as popular as in France, but they were worn by German boys. The fashion influence here may have been Fance, but we are not yet sure of this. As far as we can tell they were a pre-school play outfit for boys.

Russian Blouses

The Russian blouse style was popular in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. While HBC jas only limited information, the style with the open square collar appears to have been the most popular. It was used for a variety of different outfits, but seems to have been primarily a style used in informal play outfits. They were often worn with short pants. HBC begins to notice these garments at about the turn of the 20th century. The tunic or Buster Brown suit style worn by American boys appears to have been less popular in Germany.


Shortalls were an American style for younger boys. I don't think they were very common in Germany. We see some Germn boys after World war II wearing coveralls and other outfits similar to shortalls.

Tunic Suit

Tunic outfits were worn by German boys in the early 19th century, but the style became less common by the mid-19th century. We see many German boys in the early 20th century wearing tunic suits. They were especially common in the 1900s and 1910s before World War I (1914-18). Tunic suits were usually but not always made with long sleeves. The boy here wear a short sleeve tunic suit, probably in the 1920s (figure 1). It looks like a play suit. Tunic suits could be worn as both a play and dressup outfit.

Other Outfits

We see other outfits that are difficult to identify. We are not at all sure, for example, what the boy in the middle is wearing here (figure 1). It looks like a one-piece or perhaps button-on outfit. Perhaps our German readers will be able to describe it better.


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Created: November 30, 2002
Last updated: 10:07 PM 1/22/2006