Dutch School Clothes:  Individual Schools

Figure 1.--This photograph shows a rural Dutch school at Groenekan about 1935-36. All of the boys wear short pants, most with knee socks. Note that some of the boys wear ties. 

School images are an excellent way of following fashion trends in children clothes over time, especially as Dutch children like most Eurooean children did not wear school uniforms. And as the children are generally grouped by age group we can also following age preferences fairly easily. Readers have reported changes over time as well as differences between urban and rural schools. HBC has only begun to develop information on individual Dutch schools at this time. We are thus unable at this time to describe typical garments and trends over time. We would be very interested in any information which Dutch readers can provide about their schools and the clothes worn at those schools.

Koudum Village School (about 1905)

Here we have a school portrait taken in in Koudum. It apparently was a ;arger school as the group here all looks to be the younger children. Koudum is a small North Sea coastal village. There aew about 2,700 inhabitants in 2007. This was sapparently the Christelijke (Christian?) School. I'm not sure what that meant. Surely the village was too small to have a private religious clothes. All the children are wearing wooden shoes which would suggest that they were the village childen and not a group whose parents could afford a private school. Many of the boys wear sailor suits. Two seem to have some kind of smock outfit. The girls wear dresses, several with sailor styling. Several girls also wear pinafores. Note that both of the teachers are men.

Lyceum Thorbecke (1920-21)

This is a secondary school class of 16-year old boys from one of the most respected schools in the Netherlands--the Lyceum Thorbecke. The school was located in the Hague. The class portrait was taken during the 1920-21 school year. The school is an elite Lyceum, meaning a selective secondry school. The Lyceum was a public school, but one in which the students had to meet high standards. The boys are somewhat variously dressed reflecting the fact that European boys after World War I were gradually making a transition from knee pants and long stockings to short pants and knee pants. Knee socks were becoming more popular, but long stockings continued to be worn seasonally. This transition varied from country to county, by the 1930s we mostly see Dutch boys wearing knee socks. Most of the boys seem to be wearing suits with short trousers and either black long stockings or knee socks. Some of the lads are in long trousers. It probably depended on the parents as to whether their sons were old enough to wear long trousers. There are more short trousers, however, than long trousers, so the boys in shorts probably wouldn't have felt any inferiority. Most of the boys seem to have on formal shirts with neckties, but one boy has an open-collar shirt that spreads over his lapels, a sports or Shiller collar which was becoming a popular style.

St Aloysisius School (1935)

The Netherlands is a largely Protestant country, but there are Catholics. And the Hague has a substantiakl Catholic population. St. Aloysisius School in the Hague is one of the most famous and distinguished Catholic schools for boys in the Netherlands. Here is the class of 1935. The school had a conservative dress code. Most of the boys are dressed in short trousers suits with shirts and ties, long dark stockings, and Oxford shoes. Garter waists were obviously worn. One boy wears knee socks with his suit and two others wear long plus-fours (knickers) that come down to mid-calf. But short trousers and long stockings was obviously the tradition. These boys are about twelve or thirteen--about 8th or 9th grade in American terms. The school had very high academic standards and taught mainly a liberal arts curriculum. It was a private school and considered quite elite. We also know of a St Aloysisius School Cathloic school in Scotland, another largely Protestant country.

Groenekan Village School (about 1935-36)

A Dutch reader tells us, "I found this picture of my school, taken on a summer day in 1935 or 36. Our school was a very small rural school at Groenekan. We only had 2 classrooms. My sister, who was 2 years older than me, was taught in the same room. She is the girl on the far left with the ribbon in her hair). I am sitting in the front, the third boy from the right. I am wearing sandals without socks. My teacher did not like that at all. I remember that he wanted to send me home to get some socks or stockings for the picture, after all he said, "this is a Christian school and we were not supposed to walk around "half-naked". The fussy teachers was the one on the right, Mr. van den Berg. Most of the children were the kids of farmers or farm laborers. Some boys wear ties. All the boys are wearing short pants, some of them dark blue ribless corduroy that they also wore on the farm. Note that the boy on the right is wearing short pants with long black over-the-knee stockings. We had to walk to school (no buses), 45 minutes from home." Note that both of the two teachers are men. In American schools, primary school teachers were mostly women. The Dutch reader who provide this information about his school has also provided information about his boyhood clothes.

16. Jongens School (1942)

This is a photo taken in 1942 at a boys' school in the Netherlands. We know it is a Dutch school because of the Dutch word "Jongens" in te name of the school. (Flanders in Belgium of course is another possibility.) The name of the school is rather strange--16 Jongens School. Using a number was not that unusual. But why would it be called "Jongens". Dutch is similar to German and thih looks like Jugend. What we do not understand is why a school would be called a youth school, perhaps it means a boys' school. The boys look to be about 10 years old. They mostly wear long stockings with short trousers. This was not all that common in the Netherlands at this time. Long stockings were still worn in the Netherlands, but not that commonly. The stockings are mostly black although we see a few boys with dark brown stockings and one boy wearing knee socks. Many boys wear suit jackets although some wear sweaters. They are standing outside their school. I can't read the name over the door. Notice the large numbers of boys wearing wooden shoes. The photograph was taken during the German World War II occupation. The similar clothing suggests an orphanage to me. The wooden shoes surely must reflect World War II shortages.

Koudum Public School (1957)

The Koudum Public School was located at Appelscha. Appelscha is about 70 km from Koudum. I'm a little sure why the Koudum Public school wa not locted in Kodum and why this school was no called the Appelscha School. Perhaps Dutch readers can explain all this to us. Here we see the children on a school excursion during June 7, 1957. Most of the boys look to be wearing collared shirts and short pants. The girls seem to be wearing dresses oir skirts. Some of the children are barefoot. Some of the adults may be parents.

Dutch Singapore School

There is a Dutch School in Singapore. We have little information about the history of the school at this time. Indonesia until after World War II was a Dutch colony. Singapore was a British colony, but was also a major regional trading center and as a result there was a Dutch community in Singapore. There are today about 200-250 Dutch, Belgian (presumably Flemish), and Singaporese students. We note a number of boys and girls in a kind of smock-looking garment which is quartered in the Dutch colours. As all the children were wearing it and it clearly referred to Holland and hence the Dutch character of the school, it can be described as a kind of school uniform. The school reports, "We, as a Dutch School, have no school uniform. We do have a school t-shirt that is worn in p.e. classes and on school outings."

School Names

We do not have much information about Dutch school names. A Dutch reader tells us, "I don't know if German schools had names. I never went to school in Germany. My first school in the Netherlands had the name "School met den Bijbel" (School with the Bible), a Calvinist school. Later I went to the "Openbare Lagere School" (Lower Public School). Some Catholic schools had names of a Saint, but never anything like "The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior School".

Additional Information

Related Links: Careful this will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but both sites are highly recommended .
New Zealand E-book: Digital photographic e-Books on New Zealand schools available
Boys' Preparatory Schools: A lovely photographic essay on British Preparatory Schools during the 1980s with over 200 color and black and white photographs.
British Preparatory Schools: E-Book: Digital photographic eBbooks on British preparatory schools available


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Created: January 22, 2002
Last updated: 2:30 AM 11/6/2013