Norwegian Boys' Clothes: Chronology



Figure 1.--This CDV portrait shows a little Norwegian boy wearing a striped winter coat and sailor cap. The photographer was K. Nyblin in Bergen. It looks to have been made in the 1900s.

Norway as a country disappeared in the middle ages and became part of Denmark and than Sweden. Thus fashions were influenced by these associations, as well as the country's climate northern lattitude. ermany because of its size and economic importance wa an important influence on Scandinavian fashions. Germany bordered on Denmark and shred a Baltic coast with Sweden. We do not have much information on the19th century, but believe Norwegian fashions generally followed Europen trends, especially Scndinavian trends. Norway seceeded from Sweden and began an independent kingdom. The Norwegian queen was a British princess. This perhaps introduced a British touch to the basically Scandinavian-German styles. The short pants that became widely worn in Europe during the 1920s were never as common in Norway as in other European counrties, in part because of the climate. Some little boys wore shorts and over-the-knee stockings. Young boys by the late 1940s,used long stockings, if they were 10 or younger, and only in winter. Norwegian children by the 1970s were wearing the generalized European fashions, albeit with styles especially suited for cold weather.

The 19th Century

Norwegian boys clothing generally followed general European patterns. Norway during this century was a part of both Sweeden. As far as we know, there was no real fashions differences between Norway and Sweden.

Early 20th Century

Norway seceeded from Sweden and began an independent kingdom. The Norwegian queen was a British princess. This perhaps introduced a British touch to the basically Scandinavian-German styles. The short pants that became widely worn in Europe during the 1920s were never as common in Norway as in other European counrties, in part because of the climate. Some little boys wore shorts and over-the-knee stockings. By the late 1940s, young boys used long stockings, if they were 10 or younger, and only in winter. The stockings were very long, allmost all the way up the leg, and held by strops from a short bodice. This bodice was worn by boys and girls. Dressing was comlicated! First woollen undershirt and underpants, then bodice and stockings, and then shirt and pants. Quite a task for the younger children. These complicated stockings were not popular with the boys. Some reported that they were embarrassing. Often they were made from homespun cloth and thus rather itchy. One Norwegian correspondent tells me that in the Spring, the boys would lie about the temperature and try to convince their parents that it was warm enough to put away the long stockings. Many parents, however, would insist on them as long as the snow covered the ground. In the summer, stockings were not worn, only regular socks. Boys of 10 or more never wore the bodice and those long stockings.

Mid-20th Century

Short pants by the 1950s were not generally worn by older boys to school or for dress wear. Shorts could be used for leisure in summer though, but mostly very short compared to the English shorts, not much longer than swimming trunks, but looser. Scouts had longer shorts. A Norwegian corresondent notes that "I do remember some rare longer shorts, allmost to the knee. They had no Norwegian name; just "bermuda shorts" and regarded as rather "snobby". Boys in the 1950 boys wore either knickers with half stockings or long pants at school. Combined with knickers was used shorter stockings, just covering the knee, with elastic strops around the leg just below the knee, like the men. Shorter stockings could be used in summer and were named "half stockings"; they stopped below the knee and were regarded sunday dress and, according to a Norwegian coresspondeny "very nice". Boys wore shirts in the warmer months and in colder weather, sweathers or jackets or both. Jackets were mostly of sports' fashion, with elastic in the back and four pockets, all with buttons, two chest pockets and two hips' pockets. About 1954-55 knickers became less popular, long pants domited, but skiing pants was used when skiing to school or at school. Sports' jacket disappeared at that time, being replaced by blazer or suit jacket. Boys were unlikely to wear suits before confirmation at 14 or 15 years. The first nice suit for most Norwegian boys was usually his "Confirmation Suit" at 14, usually made to grow into! At 14 a Norwegian boy was regarded half-grown-up, and expected to wear men's dress, allowed to drink and smoke, go to dancing and try sex. A boy after 14 was by no means a child and had a right to choose his new cloths; that was his business and was usually respected. Boys pants in the early 1950s still had button flys. Many boys by the mid-1950s wanted the new zipper closures. Apparently many parents preferred the traditional buttons. In many homes boys had to quarell to get the first zipper, but parents soon found they protested in vain. Pants after the mid-1950s were more narrow and tighter. Conservative suit, like confirmation suit, still had buttons 1955. Jackets tended to be relatively long. Around 1955 or so international youth fashion entered Norway, and shortly later the jeans, that was given a National name "Ola" (like John Bull about an Englishman). Younger boys at first were allowed jeans. Only teenagers used the hipnarrow fashion trousers with zipper fly, and parents accepted that; specially if you were 14. Mothers made objections that zippers were "unsafe". In the 1940s and early 50s both boys and men wore very long shirts, with tails to the knees. The tails had to be arranged carefully. A Norwegian correspondent tells me that these shirts were a remnant from times when underwear was not common. Shorter shirts became popular and common around 1955, about the same time that jeans appeared. After World War II belts became popular with men and boys and was regarded elegant. Men who cared about some elegance wore a belt. Schoolboys by the time they reached 7 or so hated braces (suspenders) as something old fashioned and not nice. But belts for boys were hard to find up to the early 1950s. Some of the only belts available were Scout belts. As a result, Scout belts were popular even among boys who were not scouts, as were the Scout knives, because the upper part of the sheat was fit for the belt.

Late 20th Century

Norwegian children by the 1970s were wearing the generalized European fashions, albeit with styles especially suited for cold weather.







HBC




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Created: 10:06 PM 12/25/2007
Last updated: 10:06 PM 12/25/2007