German Getting Dressed Chronology

Figure 1.--Here we see Margarete in the 1920s. Girls still wore dresses in the 1920s. The styles changed and the hems were shorter. High-top shoes were still common, but we see more children wearing low-cut shoes including sandals and strap shoes. Note Margarete's hairbow, a style that was also popular in the 1910s. Drawing by Birte Koch.

We will show how the children in our family dressed at different stages from underwear to overcoats. Our intention is to show this during decades to illustrate how the process of dressing and the fashions would have changed over time. We hope to show a series of decades. Thanks to our work on HBC we have an increasing detailed understanding of how German children dressed in each decade. We would be very interested, however, if readers spot any mistakes we have made or have any comments as to how boys might have dressed in each decade. As this is a time consuming undertaking, it will be some time before we are able to accomplish this. Our initinal plan is to run this from about the 1870s to modern times.

Organizational Note

A reader writes, why do the children not grow up as the decades pass. They seem to stay the same age. Yes, we discussed this very question in planning the "Getting Dressed" project. Here there were two alternatives. We could take a family and let them age as the decades pass, adding children and grand children. We decided that as the purpose was to show how children dressed over time, that for comparative purposes it was best to have the same children at the same age in each decade. Thus we are showing the Bedrger cfamily as if it existed in different decades. Both of the two alternatives would have been interesting, but for our purposes the later alternative seemed the most useful.

The 1900s

Children's clothing styles included many 19th century styles. There were, however, some changes. Younger boys were no longer commonly outfitted in dresses. There was still condiderable formaility in dress, but some informal styles appeared for younger children. One of these informal styles for boys was tunic suits, often worn with short pants. The single most popular outfit for boys was the sailor suit. Imperial Germany was building a modern Navy as well as overseas colonies. Boys wore sailor suits in many different styles. Younger boys also had close-cropped hair cuts. Girls still always wore dresses. Hems were higher after the turn of the 20th century. White dresses wee very poular, but we note colored dresses as well. The neck level was normlly very high. The hems were normally about calf level, but could be higher for younger girls. Both boys and girls wore long stockings, but might wear short socks during the summer. Many girls wore long hair, often with hair bows.

The 1910s

The 1920s

There were major fashion changes following World War I in the 1920s. The most significant change after the War was a move toward more casual clothing, a trend that has continued throughout the 20th century. This change of course took place over time. We see a mix of old and new styles in the 1920s and that is reflected in the clothing worn by our family. Here we are still developing information. We are not sure what kind of underwear German children wore in the 1920s. In working on the United States section we had s substntial resource of the HBC catalog to use to understnd underwear. German children still commonly wore long stockings in the 1920s, especially during the Winter. Thus support garments like Leibchen were worn although ad hoc devices like pins and rubber bands were used. Of course we know much more about the children's outer clothing because of our expanding archive of photographic images. Here we see a mix of old and new styles that are family wore. We have chosen a range of Summer styles for the children.

The 1930s



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Created: 4:53 AM 8/31/2005
Last updated: 11:12 PM 1/28/2006