The first French school smocks were black. Grey smocks subsequently appeard for boys. I am not sure if the French Third Republic regulations in the 1870s spelled out the color of the smocks to be worn. They may have as all the early images I have seen show dark colored smocks, presumably black or dark blue. Reports from French visitors to HBC suggest that French boys through World War I (1914-18) and even the 1920s primarily wore dark-colored smocks, although we have seen some light colors as well at orphanages. This began changing in the 1930s. Other colors became increasingly common, especially in urban areas and for younger boys. Boys in the 1930s began wearing a variety of pastel shades and even patterns. Boys and girls wore many of the same shadrs, except for pink. For some reason white smocks were not worn.
The first French school smocks were black. Black was the dominate color for many years. Grey smocks subsequently appeard for boys. Lighter colored smocks are noted around World Wr I, but appear primarily in orphanages. I'm not sure when dark blue first appeared. School smock colors began changing drastuically in the 1930s when a variety of pastel shades anf\d patterns like ginham began to become popular.
I am not sure if the French Third Republic regulations in the 1870s spelled out the color of the smocks to be worn. They may have as all the early images I have seen show dark colored smocks, presumably black. Some may have been dark blue, but it is hard to tell from the black and white photography.
French school boys in the early 20th century appear to have continued wearing mostly black or dark blue. We have also noted some grey smocks. We have also noted French boys wearing ginham smocks at home, but not to school in the early 20th century.
Reports from French visitors to HBC suggest that French boys through the 1920s still primarily wore dark-colored smocks, although we have seen some light colrs as well. More variation in colors occured in the 1930s. Thtree different fabrics were commonly used in the 1930s and continued to be used through the 1950s.
Tissus Boussac: Boussac fabric was used for solid color smocks, both dark and light colors. All sorts of color ere used for the "Tissus unis" (plain color) going from black to sky (light) blue, but never white.
Tissus Zéphir: Zéphir fabric was used for printed smocks.
Tissus Vichy: Vichy or ginham smocks became very popular. The two most common coloes were blue and red. These ginham smocks looked rather like light blue and pink as these ginham pattern mixed red and blue with white. There were also green ones.
This began changing in the 1940s, especially after World War II (1939-45). Other colors became increasingly common, especially in urban areas and for younger boys. Boys in the 1950s wore black, dark blue, or gray smocks although younger boys were a greater variety.
Some basic information is available on specific colors. Reports from French visitors to HBC suggest that French boys through World War I (1914-18) primarily wore dark colored smocks--mostly black. We have seen some light colors as well, but primarily at orphanages. This began changing after the War, especially in Paris and urban areas. While rural boys continued to wear black smocks, boys in urban areas by the 1930s were wearing a variety of lighter, pastel shades and even patterns--mostly gingham.
The first French school smocks appear to be black. Given the black and white photograohy of the day, however, HBC has difficulty in destinuishing between black and dark blue. We are not sure if the French Third Republic regulations in the 1870s spelled out the color of the smocks to be worn. They may have as all the early images I have seen show dark colored smocks, presumably black or dark blue. Boys at the turn of tthe 20th century wore both black and to a lesser extent grey smocks. I'm less sure about dark blue as ot can not be destunguished from black in old photographs. The popularity of these black smocks, however, declined after Wotld War I (1914-18).
Dark blue in the 1930s began replacing black as a common color for school smocks. At the same time many different shades of lighter blue began to appear. The pastel shades eventually exceeded the darker shades in popularity. The darket blue was certainly more practical. In the years before ballpoint pins, ink stains were a constant problem. Apparently is was the fashion sence of the mothers that one out over paractiaclity. They preferred the looj of the lighter pastel shades.
We have never noted fawn or khaki smocks. A French reader tells us, "Just as grey smocks went out of style in the 1930s, it was the same for tan colored kneesocks for children."
We do not know of solid green school smocks, although some of the gingham smocks were green.
Grey smocks subsequently appeard in France during the late 19th century. The dark blue and black smocks were more common. Various shades of grey, however, were also common. This changed in the 1930s when smocks in pastel sjades began to be more popular. Beginning in the 1930s grey smocks became rare. A French reader tells us, "Many French mothers for some reason considered grey as worse than black. Grey was considered to be a horrible color for boys. The grey smocks were seen as suitable only for boisterous or poor boys. We Frebch had many such prejudices at the time"
Boys did not wear pink smocks. The red gingham smocks, however, rather looked liked pink smocks.
We have not noted red school smocks.
Lighter colored school smocks began to be popular in the 1930s for both boys and girls. They were available in several pastel shades. French children, howerver, did not wear white school smocks. I am not sure why. White school smocks were worn in several other countries. We note that white was a common color for babies and gfor boys' rompers.
We have not noted yellow school smocks. We have noted yellow smocks in the 1920s for use at home by small children.
It is not possible to list every color. Once you get beyond the basic colors the list of possible colors is mind bogling. The colors listed here are the major basic colors and or the primary colors used for school smocks. We note, however, that a much wide range of colors have been used for the smocks worn at home for young children, boys and girls. This has included many bright colors which were not commonly used for school smocks. A 1924 newspaper ad, for example, offered smocks in raspberry pink, blue, orange, jade, yellow and mauve.
At this time, HBC does not have full details on the color of French school smocks, especially over the many decaded since they were first extensively used in the early 1870s. We do not not if there gender differences during this period. Thus we can only state the few details that we have and expand on this beginning as we acquire additional information. SWe believe that the smocks worn by school children in the 1870s were dark blue or black. We lnow this was the case for boys' smocks, we are less sure about girls' smocks. We believe that by the turn of the century that boys were also wearing grey smocks, but that the dark blue and black ones were the most common. We note that by the late 1910s that children were wearing light colored smocks. There were many orphans created by World War I and some of the photographs taken in the orphanages show the children wearing light-colored smocks. We do not know if this was a peculaiarity of the orphanages or also reflected what was being worn in schools. Most of the available images during the inter-war era show boys
wearing dark blue or black smocks. We know that light colored smocks had become quite common for girls by the 1930s, but we are unsure as to precisely when
they began wearing the dark-colored smocks. Beginning about the 1930s, increasing diversity was noted in the color of school smocks, including the ones for boys.
Both boys and girls began wearing the same colors, with a few exceptions.
The lighter color pastel shades and patterns used for school smocks were also used for rompers as well as shirts. The darker colors like black and dark blue, however, were never used for rompers. Rompers were, however, made in white which was not used for school smocks.