Figure 1.--This American image is undated, but was probably taken in the 1900s. We thought at first that the boy was wearing a smock. An examination of the collar reveals, however, that he is not wearing a shirt, although there does seem to be a locket, and there is no indication that he is wearing kneepants. Thus we believe that this boy is wearing a dress. Also note the strap shoes and striped socks. A reader reports, "The boy is not wearing striped socks but a sort of multi-strapped high shoe. I have seen them before, mostly on girls but occassionally on boys. Unfortunately the image does not show enough detail, but I think you can make out the fasteners at the side, especially on the boy's right." He looks to be about 8 years old.
A smock is generally defined as a loose over-garment, especially one worn to protect the clothing worn under the smock. They are especially associated with protecting children's clothing at school and at play and adult's clothing at work. The smocks worn by European farm laborers in the 19th century were sometimes referred to as a smock frock. Smocks are sometimes difficult to differentiate from two related garments, dresses and pinafores. We have begun to collect the various foreign language terms for smocks. In some countries there are multiple terms.
A smock is generally defined as a loose over-garment, especially one worn to protect the clothing worn under the smock. They are especially associated with protecting children's clothing at school and at play and adult's clothing at work. The smocks worn by European farm laborers in the 19th century were sometimes referred to as a smock frock. Smocks are sometimes difficult to differentiate from two related garments, dresses and pinafores. The primary difference with a dress is that smocks are worn to protect other garments worn under the smock. This is not the case of a dress. Smocks are differentiated from pinafores in that they have both backs and sleeves. The pinafore is more of an apron-like garment, often without a back or sleeves. Even so, in some languages the word apron is used for smock. While these simple rules can usually be employed to categorize garments, some times there are dresses, smocks, and pinafores that blure the differences.
We have begun to collect the various foreign language terms for smocks. In some countries there are multiple terms. While we know the word for smock in several languages, there are still many lanaguages for which we do not know the word.
Dutch: Smocks in the Netherlands are called "boerenkiel" (kiel=smock for boeren=peasants) and were common in rural areas until about the mid-1930s. There are also less commonly referred to as "boezeroen". HBC has prepared an assessment of the different Dutch words used for different kinds of smocks.
English: The only English lnguage term we know is "smock". Related terms are "apron" and "pinafore".
French: The smock was very important garment in France. The principal term for a child'd smock is "tablier". Ther are, however, in French many different terms for smock. A French reader tells us that in French, "We say about smocks des "cache-poussière" (it's the dust of chalks) mainly for the boys." This sounds rather like the Spanish term "guardapolvo".
Japanese: HBC knows of no specific Japanese word for smock. The general term "uwappari" is used for a variety of protective garments: overalls, wrapper, duster, and smock. We think that this term is used for children's smocks is in Japanese, but have very little informnation. Smocks in Japan are only worn only by kindergarteners and pre-school boys.
Portuguese: The principal word for smock in Portugal is "bata" which is used for a child's or school smock. HBC has also noted other words used for smock, including "blusa" and "guarda-pó".
Spanish: The principal Spanish term is "guardapolvo". This Spanish term means literally "dust protector". I'm not sure why children's clothes needed to be prorected from dust particualrly, perhaps the chalk dust at school. "Guardapolvo" appears to be the term most common in some Latin American countries while "delantal" (apron) or "blusa" (blouse) is more common in Spain itself.
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