Italian School Smocks: Usage

Figure 1.--This Italian school class portrait is undates, but wewould guess the late-1940s. Smocks were clearly not required at the school, but a few boys wore them, presumably because their mothers insisted. Notice the boys in smocks have been placed at the front. We are not sure if the teacher or photographer did this.

We are not yet sure when Italian children began wearing smocks to school in the 19th century or how common it was. We do know that they were commonly worn in the 20th century. The smock sees to have been primarily a school garment. We do not see smocks being worn much at home, but they were very common at school. Virtually all Italian primary school children wore them at one time. We see many schools with all or almost all of the children wearing smocks. It may well have been a national rule or at least a recommendation. An Italian reader tells us tht the public schools could not require the children to wear smocks, but from the level of compliance, it is clear that some schools promoted smocks more than others. We do not have information on the precise regulations. Smocks seem especially common during the Fascist era between the Wars. They were still quite common after World War II through the 1950s. Some schools promoted smocks as schoolwear, but could not require the children to wear them. Some mothers liked the idea as they helped tonkeep school clothes clean. We are less sure what the children thought about them. We see, however, fewer public schools where all the children were wearing them. They are now much less common, but are still widely worn. This varies from school to school. They seem to be more common in rural areas and in private schools.


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Created: 10:59 PM 1/24/2009
Last updated: 10:59 PM 1/24/2009