Smocks and Smock Frocks: Ages

Figure 1.--Smocks in American and England were generally worn by younger boys. In France and other European countries even younger teenagers wore them to school, although this has varied over time. The children here look about 3-4 years old.


Smock are most associated with younger boys. This has, however, varied greatly over time and from country to country. There has been considerable differences in family practice not only betweenm but within countries. Until World War I (1914-18), mothers had much more latitude about how they dressed children than is the case today. We have noted younger teenage boys wearing smocks in French schools during the early 20th century. The same was probably true in other countries such as Italy, Portugal, and Soain, although we have less informnationa t this time. We have also noticed older boys wearing smocks in orphanges and work houses. Some European parents also had school age boys wear smocks at home. In other countries such as America they were generally worn by yonger boys. Today theu have disapperaed in some countries, but widely worn by elementary age school children in several countries.


A HBC reader has asked about this image. In fact, I know nothing about it. I would say that it was English, but it could be American. Our reader writes, "I would find it interesting to know the year you think this picture is and I assume the ages are between 3 & 4. This looks like a performance of some type to me and not typical clothes worn by the children, if I had to guess!" Yes I would say it was a staged picture, bit not really a performance. I doubt if there was an audience. Whether the children normally wore smock, I dio not know. As ro the date, I would guess the early 1930s. I'd be interested in any thoughts HBC readers might have.

A HBC reader comments, "Interesting discussion. I tried to read what's written on left tent, but no way ... I couldn't make it out. It could be some nursery school festivity, could have been more likely than America anywhere in France, Belgium, northern Italy (color of hairs). Date could be 1930 to 1970. (You can still today see that kind of scene in elementary schools of Spain-Portugal).

Christopher Wagner

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Created: September 5, 2001
Last updated: September 22, 2001