*** historical girls' clothing fashion costume styles countries Europe

Historical Girls' Clothing: Countries--Europe

 English girls pinafores
Figure 1.--One of the most common garments for girls throughout Europe in the 19th century was the pinafore. It was a protective garment. There were two reasons why a protective garments was common. First, clothes were relatively much more expensive than clothing today. Second, laundry wasa much morelavboriousprocess. While the pinafore was basically a utilitarian garment, we see some very fancy ones like the pinafores these London girls are wearing in this cabinet card. It is undated, but looks like the 1890s to us. The studio was H. Hallier in Sydenham, London.

The fashion history of Europe is a well-covered topic, at least women's fashions. And for centuries girls wore small sized dresses styled liketheir mother's garments. The basic woman's garment is the dress. It evolved from the robes that both men and women wore in the medieval era. There is a huge body of evidence including vintage clothing, art, fashion magazines, and photographs. Even before the invention of photography, there are large numbers of art work showcasing women's fashions. Most of this evidence relates to adult women. we have less information about girls. We are slowly adding country pages to our HGC fashion site. Here we are looking forwaed to reader contributions to build our country section. At this time much of our information comes from England, France, Germany, and the United States, but we hope to expand these country pages as our HGC site grows. There used to be vast differences between popular fashions from country to country, although elites tended to follow the same fashion trends. As popular fashions became more standardized, a few countries emerged as fashion setters, especially England, France, and Germany. France was especially important as during the medieval era it was such a rich country. And in more recent years it continued to dominate female fashions, at leased the elites and middle-class in cities. In the country siude, peasant styles were less inflenced by affluent city styles and often had som influence on city styles addecting nationl styles. The United States became important after World War II, especially in Western Europe nit trpped into the Soviet empire. Grdually by the nd of the 20th century, a kind of pan-European style emerged. As far as we can tell, girls's styles were less country specific than boy' styles, but peasant styling was important innmany countries.


Austria or more correctly the Austrran Empire was for several centuries one of the great powers of Europe. For a time it looked like Austria would be the country that would unify Germany. And Austria was firmly set in the Germanic cultural world. Unlike Prussia, Austria built a substantial non-Germanic empire, far outnumbering the Germanic population in Austria itself. Vienna was an important cultural center. Fashions were influenced by Germany and to an extent France. The French influence was primarily on women's and girls' fashions. And Vienna dominated fashions throughout the Empire, at least the urban population. Much of the Empire was, however, both rural and non-German, several differenr ethnicities. France was the primary influence for female fashions througout Europe. Economic and cultural ties to Germany made that country with a huge clothing industry an important influence. One particularly popular style was the sailor-styled outfits. Initially sailor outfits were a boys' style, but also became very popular with European girls, especially in Austria and Germany fior some reason. There were also influences from the non-Germanic peoples to the east that comprised most of the Empire, especially the Hungarians.


Belgium is a small country pnce part of the Spanish Netherlands in the lowlands between Germany and France. The population is split between the Flemish related wih the Dutch to the North and the Waloons related with the French to the south, but both sharing Catholcism. The country is heavily industrialized with a sizeable agricultural sector. Industrialization meant that the country was fairly affluent with families able to addord the latest fashions. All of this of course affects fashion trends. We do not know of any destinctive modern styles. As was the case throuhjout Europe, girls until the 20th century all wore dresses and skirts. What we see for the most part are styles influenced by French and German trends. Belgium had a substantial African colonial empire which hhad an economic impact, but virtully no impact on fashion. There are some interesting folk styles which basically disappeared around World War I except for festivals and ceremonies.


We do not yet hve much information in aDnish fashions gender trends. Our Sanish archive is very limited making it impossible to go very deeply into the topic. Denmark is a very small country and thus will not have a photographic record like the larger countriesfor wjoch we have substatial archives. Denmark borders Germany to the south. As best we can tell, German children's clothing for both boys and girls were similar to German styles, at least popular styles in northern Germany. We do not see soutern/Alpine styles like Kederhosen. We do noy ter know much about girls' styles. We are not sure, for exmple, about the dirndl. Hopefully as we acquire more images, we can begin to assess gender trends.


England was particularly important in setting boy's fashion. It was not quite as important for girl's fashions. Here France was probably more important. That is not to say that English girls' fashions were not influentional. We suspect that not only did England originate fashions, but it was a factor in transmitting French styles throughout the Empire and to the United States. Interestibgly, we do not see the significant disparity that devedloped between English and America boys' fashions also developing in girls' fashions. England of course was a major factor in the development of the fabric and garment industry. We have begun to collect some information on chronological trends. England also stongly influenced styles in its many colonies as well as to a lesser extent the United States. It was England which established many school uniform styles. And school uniform styles influences overal girlswear in England an other countries. We have a page on English girls' underwear.


France since the medieval era, but especially the reign of King Louis XIV has been a major force in the world of fashion. This is especially the case in women's and girls' fashions. We believe that the French were very important in establishing dress styles throuhout the 19th century. Women througout Europe and the America's looked to France for trend setting fahions. Of course until the 20th century, girls' cloyhing were an after thought, but girls' styles inevvitablt followed their mothers' styles, especially before the 20th century. This is similar to how the British played a major role in men and boys' clothing.


We do not know much about German girls fashions in thr 18th century, but have acquired quite a bit of information beginning in the 19th century. Girls wore dresses and skirts in the 19th century and much of the 20th century. de range of different dress styles. Sailor styles as with the boys became very popular. Some garments, especially hosiery and footwear was the same or identical. We first see girls wearing other garments in the early-20th century when girls began wearing bloomer and romper outfits for school gym classes. We later see girls wearing short pants for Hitler Youth athletic avtivities, but the offocial uniform was a blouse and skirt. It was not until after the World War II that we see girls wearing shorts or long pants, but this was only for casual or play activities. For the most part, German girls continued wearing skirts and dresses into the 1960s. The popularity of Jeans in the late-1960s and 70s was was a major factor in changing girls clothing trends. We have not yet have much information on German girls' fashions. We have archived large numbers of images of German girls in the HBC boys section. We have not yet, however, assessed the fashion trends depicted there. We note German sisters in the 1920s. Dressing sisters in identical dresses was very common in Germany, but varied from family to family.


Hungary is a relatively small counyty which for centuries was connected to Austrtia through the Hapsburg ruling dynasty. This meant in effect a connection to the German European community. We thus see a substantial influence in clothing and fashion, including children's fashion. The Hungarian influence was iften expressed with trim. Because Hungary was a small, not especially prosperous country in central Europe, our photographic archiuve is realtively limited. As far as we can tell, it would be difficult to destinguish betweem Hungarian and Austrian/German images based on clothing. We think this is especially the case with girls clothing. We even see similarities in how the children were posed in photographic studios. Hungary broke with Austria after World War I and became an independent country (1918). Even so the German influence continued, primarily because of the very substantial German fashion industry.


Italian girls like girls throughout Europe mostly wore dresses or other skirted outfits like blouses and skirts. Italy set fashion trends during the Renaissance, but became a European backwater until the 20th century. We notice the same basic styles as worn in other countries. It is virtually impossible to identify countries in photographs of girls wearing dresses in Europe. Ethnicity and background provide clues, but rarely the dresses. The primary exception is when some peasant/folk styles are worn. Some girls wore pinafores over their dresses, but this began to decline after the early-20th century. It may have been less common in Italy because smocks were so common in schools. The prevalence of dresses did not change to an extent until after World War II. Italy was one of the countries where smocks were widely worn for school. Thus school images are not as useful as many another countries in following chronological dress styles. Both boys and girls wore them, but they were more common for girls and older girls wore them. While they were commonly worn for school, we see very few girls wearing smocks outside of school. We begin to notice other girls' garments first in institutional settings, especially the summer camps that became common during fascist era of the 1920 and 30s. One of those garments was rompers. We notice girls wearing uniform rompers at a Fascist summer camp during the 1930s. Unlike France, both boys and girls wore rompers in Italy, but we see them mostly in institutional settings. One garment was especially important in Europe--the shawl. We notice this in many European countries, especially among the poorer segment of the population.


It is difficult to folow fashion developments in small vountrieds because thry trnd yto have smaller fashion industries creating fashions and smaller photograohic records recoirding it and can be used to follow it. Of course rge Netherlanmds as a relatively well to do country which promotes fashions and increases the size of the ohoytiograohic recird. Folk costuimes can provide country clues. Wooden shos are assicuated ewuth the Dutch, but were widely worn in other countries as well. It is thus not possible to identify Dutch photographs unless they are labdeled. Dutch dashions seem stroingly influnced by Germany with its large dashion tradition. We think French fashions are less influntial, but have some influence on women's fasgiomns and thus girls. nd there are overall European conventions, especially associated with hem limnes. Pinafores were commoin in the late-19th amf bery early-20th centuty.


Romania until after World War II was a country split between a modern urban population and a peasant rural pipulation. This was the case throughout the Balkans where unlike much of Western Europe was not highly industrialized. There wre a range of reasons for this. Much of the region languished for several centuries unfer backward Ottoman cintrol. Other areas of the region were under Austrian vontrol which did not promote industrislization. The region was also largely untouched by the Reformation. Also the Balkans were outside the major trade routes which helped to make modern Europe. Other factors were involved. For what ever reason the split in Romanian society could be seen in fashion. Girls in yhe contry side still wore peasnt dress which was becoming a kind of folk costume. In the cities girls might wear fashionable dresses and other outfits depending on social class meaning the family finances. We do not notice any spcific Romanian styles, but basic European styles. German fashions seem inflential reflecting the importance of the German fashion industry.


We do not yet have much information on Russia girl's clothing. Befire the Revolution, the Russian middle class and aristicracy dressed much like their counterparts in the West. We believe that French vfashions were an important influemce. Tsar Nicholas has six faughters who were dressed rather plainly and extebsiveky photographed. The photographic record suggests that most girls from families in comfortable conditioins were dressed in more elaborate dresses. We have much less infornation on worrking class fashiins and Russia's larger rural population. The boys of course wore tunics which became very fashionnle in the West at the turn of the 20th cntury. There does not seem to have been any comparable style for girls. After the Revolution we no longer see elaboratre dresses for girls. An exceotion here was hairbows which became a fashion standard for Russian girls into the 1960s. We have just begin to assess Russian girls' styles during the Soviet era.


We do not know a great deal about girls' clothing in Scotland. We do know that until after the mid-20th century Scottish girls like girls in other countries mostly wore dresses. as far as we know styles were identical to those worn in England. There were of course plaid dresses and skirts. Presumably they were more common in Scotland thsn Englasnd, but the photographic record does not show that either was particularly common. There does not seem to be anything comparble to boys Highland kilt outfits. This was one reason tht Aboyne outfits were created. There are two different styles, but this is a fairly modern creation and only worn for dance competitions. Unlike the similar dirdl fashion in Germany, it is not a style commonly worn even for folk ce;ebrations. We only see it bing worn by Higland dancers. We have begun to collect information on girls dresses, but at this time see no real difference between England and Scotland.


Serbian medievil clothing was similar to to that of the rest of the former Romann Emipre. Men and women wore long robes. As Europe was experiencing the Renaissance and transitioning into the modern age, however, it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire (14th and 15 centuries). Thus Ottoman styles began to influence Serbia and the Balkans. This was the foundation from which Serbian traditional styles began to develop. These styles became prominent not only in Serbia proper, but to varying degrees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, anf Montenegro where many Serbs lived as well as Albania, Bulgarai, Greece, and Macedonia. There were of course many regioinal differences. And as the Austrian Empire began to expand we begin to see more European influences, especially drindl dresses. What became seen as Serbian traditional dresses are basically peasant attire in the 18th century. As with most traditional styles, girls wore scaled dowm verisons of their mothers' outfits. Traditional Serbian female dress consisted of blouses and skirts. These were varied, often consisting of plaited or gathered and embroidered linen, with tkanice serving as a belt. Aprons (pregače) becane important and were richly decorated with stylized floral motifs. Blouses completed the outfit. They looked like tunics but of course were tucked into the skirt. Thety were also extensively decorated. Less common were sleeveless dresses of red or blue cloth worn at knee length, well decorated and buttoning up the front. These garments were still common into the early-20th century, especially iun rural areas, but are now only worn for special, festive occasions. At first seen mostly in the cities, modern European dress styles slowly became wide spread. Here Austria/Germany seens to have been the primary influence, but girls' clothing are generally not as country specific as boys' clothing. Thus it is impossible to identify Serbian photographs without some sort of provinance.


Swedish girls seem to wear the same basic garments as neigboring countries. We do not yet have much information on Swedish girls, our archive is very limited. The only destinctive styles we see are folk outfits. Unless a photograph is identified, we have no way of knowing if it is Swedish or even Scananavian. German styles seem especially important in Sweden. This presumably affects cultural ties as well as a very large German fashion industry. Swedish girls wore dresses. We do not seen a significant shift until World War II which was the general pattern in Europe and America.


We do not have a lot of information on Swiss girls clothing. Swiss girls mostly wore dresses that look a lot like those worn in neighboring France and Germany. Sailor styles do not seem as popular. We do note quite a number of girls wearing pinafores and not just for school. Boys in French cantons wore smocks and pinafores for school, but not in German Cantons. Girls in both French and German Cantons wore pinafores. Almost all girls wore dresses. We not a few girls wearing pants for casual wear around the home in the 1940s, but this does not seem to be very common and we do not see it at school until. Braids seemed very popular for Swiss girls hair styles.


Traditional Ukrainian styles according go one source trace back to the Kievan Rus. We are not sure about that, but it could be to some extent due to the fact that that fashion changed ver slowly during the medievl era. In most of Europe what we call today traditional and folk styles. There are of coirse a variety of outfis. The look or decoration can vary regionally. The basic outdit was a home made shirt or blouse worn with a long skirt (vyshyvanka). White the blouse may be basic, they are decorated by colorful embriodered designs on the collar, cuffs and hem. A girl traditionally wears her blouse without outerwear, at least during the summer. A married woman covers her hair with a shawl and wears a vest-like jacket over her blouse. Shawls seem very common and until after World War II were very commonly worn in Ukraine, especially by the peasantry. Further decorations are various accessories like belts, jewelery and headdresses. This can be a shawl or floral wreath, decorated with colorful ribbons and fresh and artificial flowers. Beads and coins were often added as astatus symbols. Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrnisn peasantry (1930s). This today these garments are worn for special occasions and celebrations.


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Created: 4:03 PM 2/15/2019
Last updated: 2:40 PM 5/8/2023