Vocabulaire en Français des Vêtements Garçon/
Boys' French-Language Clothing Glossary (A-C)

Figure 1.--Many French postcards in the early 20th century fashionably dressed garçon modèles, often wearing loose blouses and short pants like these boys in 1932. Notice the different shoe styles. The principal French term for ordinary shoes is "chaussures" like the oxfords thde boy on the right wears. Souliers are expensive low-cut shoes, like patent leather strap shoes which the boy on the left wears. Interestingly, HBC has rarely noted boys dressed in rompers for these cards. Note how the boys in these cards are often shown with flowers.

Here is a French-language alphabetical listing of clothing items. They lead to English-language pages, but we think that the alphabetical French listing will help French speakers navigate our web site. This list includes not only the French words for garments, but also terms used in the manufacture and sewing of garments. We have included not only modern terms, but also older terms that are found in historic fashion publications. Our understanding of some of these historic terms is incomplete. French readers are incouraged to suggest additional terms or to provide any improvements on our discriptions of these terms.

Voici une liste alphabétique de termes de vêtements en langue française. Ils mènent à des pages de langue anglaise, mais nous pensons que la liste française alphabétique aidera les francophones à naviguer sur notre site.

Adolescent: A youth 12 till 15 years old

Ajoure: This is an old term meaning "emphasizing the waist, wrist, collar and so on.

Anglaises: Coiffure des cheveux, English curled hair was the term the French used for ringlet curls. This was a very commonly used word before 1980, but a French reader tells us that it is a bit forgoten to day.

Appliqué: This word has been incorporated into the English language meaning ornamental work on one material that has been applied or sewn on to a garment. Also used tp describe the actual ornamentation. Appliqué is commonly used on the clothing of younger children. In France it was widely used on blouses, dresses, smocks, and rompers.

Barboteuse: The French word for rompers is barboteuse. A french reader tells HBC that the word is derived from the verb "barboter" meaning to paddle in the water. I don't quite see the connection. One of HBC's French readers informs us, "It's one of the mysteries of the French language, there are at least as many in English. Barboter means playing in the water. Let's assume that at origin small boys who like so much play in the water where dressed like that with bare legs and feet.

Barboteuse bain de soleil: The summer sun-suit type romper.

Barboteuse à bavette: Rompers with bib fronts.

Bas: One French speaker tells HBC that the term for kneesock is "bas," derived from same word meaning low. Another French speaker tells HBC that "bas" is an old word refering to the ankle and long stockings worn by women, men, and children. In modern French the more common term for men's and children's hosiery has become "chaussettes," especially after 1932 . In modern French, "bas" has become identified exclusively with women's stockings. HBC is a bit confused and does not knpw what the term for "kneesocks" is.

Bébé: In the first half of the 20th cerntury, the children under 3 were consider as "bébés" (babies). The English word "baby" might be used to describe fashionable clothes for children this age.

Béret: The beret has to be the most versitle head gear in history. What other head gear has been wore by little boys and girls, elite soldiers, scruffy Cuban revolutionariers, boy and girl scouts, shepards, a president's nemesis, and many others more. It is esentially a visorless cap--but the simple design can be worn for a multiplicity of different looks. HBC has also noted the word "béret" beimg used in early 20th century advertisements and magazines for caps in general.

Béret écossais : HBC has realtively little information about the Tam O'Shanter, often just referred to as a "tam". I am not sure, for example, even with basic information about it such as why the Tam O'Shanter was named after Burns' hero. We do not know if tge cap already existed amd was renamed the Tam O-Shanter or if it was a new style. There are many different sizes of Tam O-Shanter or tams and stlistic variations such as the inclusion of a pom on the top. The Tam O'Shanter is commonly associated with Scottish dress, but we have notec boys from different countries wearing them in the alte 19th and early 20th centuries.

Blouse: A "blouse" is a shirt for women or children, both younger boys and girls. "Blouse" ban, however, be used to mean a front-buttoning smock as worn by doctors, nurses, lab workers etc. There is a different word for a child's smock--"tablier". Some care has to be taken in translating these terms as usage has changed over time. We have also noted "blouse" being used in the sence of "tunic". HBC had prepard an assessment of French smock terms.

Blouse: The word "blouse" has several meanings. It can be used as in English for a shirt-like garment. It is also commonly used for smocks like lab-style smocks closed in front of the body. This is a term mean smock in general, for school, work, men, and women. This word isn't used concerning specifically childrens or school smocks.

Blouse-chemisier: This is a blouse in the sence of a shirt (without tails) for a woman or younger child.

Bloomer: The word "bloomer" is an English word, meaning the baggy pants for women fashioned by Amelia Bloomer in the mid-19th century. Bloomer was a campaigner for more sensible clothing for women, but the bloomer costume was rediculed. One HBC reader reports that in France the word "bloomer"apearded after 1922 He reports that baby boys had worn bloomer pants for some time. He reports a revue (magazine?) Le moniteur de la mode 1901 with such a description.

Bonnet à pompon: Stocking cap for children with a pom. I'm not sure what a watch cap without the pom is called.

Bonneterie: Bonneterie is a general word describing all sorts of small garments such as stockings, underwear, hats etc. HBC is a little unsure as to what hats have to do with underwear, but perhaps pur French readers will at some point enlighten their Anglo-American colleagues on this matter. The computer translations reder this as hosiery. It looks to HBC as more like "millinery"(I'm unsure about the spelling--meaning ladies hats. (The derivation in English comes from Milan, a city in Italy that was presumably known for making women's hats. In the 19th century caps and hats for younger boys would have been purchased at such shops rather than a haberdashery or men's hat and clothing store. A French reader tells HBC that the origin of this French word is unknown, so he is also confused. One can make the link to French word "bonnet" meaning cap or bonnet or hat, but describing as well the two cups in a bra. As a bonneterie is a shop selling (or a factory making) mainly womens underwear, knitted garments, stockings, gloves etc, it can well be that "bonneterie" is derived more from the bra notion than from the hat notion. In any case it's not the millinery definition that I think covers exclusively hats, neither the hosiery that defines only knitted goods.

Bordé: Brordé means edging or border. Another term used is "dépassant," but that is now less commonly used. There are several kinds of "bordé", such as: "bordé d'un liseré," "bordé de croquets," and "bordé de broderies". Many smocks and rompers had this sort of hem , usually below the yoke of the garment. Edging with lace was called "entre-deux", but this term is now less commonly used and people usually say "bordé de dentelle".

Brillanté: This is an adjective used to describe a shiny or lustrous fabric like satin.

Brodequins: "Brodequins" are working or hiking shoes for the country or the mountain, but this word is less commonly used today. A boy wearing "brodequins" in the 1920s can be seen in a summary page for schools smocks prepared by a French reader.

Cape: The most common translation is also "cape", but "manteau" (coat) is sometimes used as well.

Capuce: Hood. Sometimes used as a "pélerine capuchon" which means a hooded raincoat. Many Italian and French (not to forget English see words "cap, cape, captain") have their origin in the Latin word "caput" meanig head. In French for instance those words linked with hat such as capuce (monk's hood), capuche or capuchon. This obviously links directly to the capuchin brotherhood. In French "Capucins" is from italian word cappuccino. This brotherhood is a branch of the "Franciscains" founded by Saint-François and indeed wears a hood (and a rope for belt). And here the interesting question is wheather brotherhood's name is coming from that hood or vice-versa, when you know that in past French history the capuchins were the official firemen, I imagine the hood was to protect them against heat and ashes. To further complicate the issue, "as you certainly know this coffee with whiped cream on top, called cappucino."

Cardigan: A short, front buttoning knitted jacket or sweater. Similar to the cardigan sweater as used in English. The word is also sometimes used for blouse or sweter. A French reader reports, "I didn't even know this word was used for smock/blouse in 1966. Undoubtedly it was to renovate the concept of blouse which surely sounded old-fashioned to the young people of this era." When used for smock, it means a short, front buttoning smock. HBC had prepard an assessment of French smock terms.

Casquette: The cap (with a visor). A casquette has a peak/visor (in effect a partial brom) and the crown is not high. This word is very commonly used today. The American baseball cap style is called a casquette. A military cap is also called casquette. All head wear with a peak is called a casquette. Headwear without a peak is called al béret, including the military and Scout berets. In the past boys used to wear the French style béret, nowadays has been replaced by cap with its visor on side over ear if not completely backwards. Hats or headwear with full brims are a "chapeau".

Ceinture nouée: Belt

Ceinture nouée: Waist bands tied in the back in a bow, commonly associated with rompers and dresses.

Chandail: Jumper (more familiar American term would be "pullover"). The English language term "jumper" in America can refer to a simple girls' dress.

Chapeau: Hat. Headwear with a full, all-around brim is a "chapeau". The detiction between a cap (casquette) and a hat (chapeau) is the same in French and English.

Chaussettes: This is the modern French word for socks now in common use. Derived from the word chaussure meaning shoes.

Chaussettes: Chaussettes is the modern term for kneesocks, worn by children, women, and men.

Chaussettes montantes: "Chaussettes montantes" means knee socks. The French also say chaussetttes hautes or simply chaussettes. All these terms are commonly used today. "Mi-bas" meaning knee socks is an old word for "chaussettes". It is no longer commonly used in popular language, but is found in the catalogs.

Chaussons: Before the 18th century the word "soques", which also was used for a wooden shoe, was used for slipper. The modern French word for slipper is "chaussons".

Chaussures: The principal French term for ordinary shoes is "chaussures". Souliers are expensive low-cut shoes, like patent leather strap shoes. Boys from affluent families in the mid-20th century might wear such souliers. Other boys of more modest means more commonly wore high shoes called chaussures which were more sturdy and more practical for rough school wear. Low cut oxfords were also called chaussures.

Chaussures Charles IX: Strap shoes for boys

Chemise: Shirt means a man's or boy's shirt.

Choupette: A French reader describes a "coiffure de garçonnet avec une choupette". He reports that it was was common from the 1930s and early 50s with mothers who wanted to make a younger boy look nice and he himself wore such hair styles. He indicates that choupette was a familiar name. It consist as a big curl of hair placed in the the middle of the head. The vogue was quite common for boys in affluent families and to make boys look alike "enfants modèles" (model children). Boys might keep a "bigoudi" or a "barette" in their hair. The word choupette today is only understood by the older people. Young people in France today don't today know exactly what it means, but recognize it as something associated with hair styling.

Col: Collar

Col Claudine: The French say "Col Claudine or Cludine collar. Claudine is a girl's name. I'm not sure why this name was selected or even when it was first used for Peter Pan collars. A French reader tells us, "I'm not sure why the term is used to describe Peter Pan collars here in France. It is a mystery like we can find amongs the appellations in the french fashion. What is sure is that it is an old appellation. The name Claudine was in fashion for the girls in the 1936-55. I'm not sure when it was first used as a term for these collars." While we have few details, we believ thatthe Peter Pan collar was worn many years in France before people began calling it a col Claudine. We are not sure what the original term for the collars was.

Col de dentelle: Lace collar

Col Eton: Eton collar

Col marin: Sailor collar

Col rond: Another name for Peter Pan collar other than Col Claudine is " col rond ". Often the French say " petit col rond " when speaking of children's collars, mning "little round collar".

Collants: Ties. This is a new word from 1968 only for women girl and baby. Today allso used by the sportmen

Costume(s): Suits

Coupe au carré: This term is used to descrine a fring ("fange") or bangs haircut.

Costume baby: The use of the English word "baby" in bout costume baby points out a style for young children and not an infant or baby in the English sence. The use of a foreign word was designed to give the style a chic or fashionable image. Notice that before the 1950s it was commun to call use "bébé" for infants a nd very young children under 3 years old. Mothers considered them to be in the "bébé" categoty.

Costume bloomer: Bloomer outfits

Costume(s) du petit lord Fauntleroy: Little Lord Fauntleroy suits.

Costume(s) marin: Sailor suits.

Cravatte: Believed to be a corruption of "Croat" where the cravat originated. Neckwear, both male and female, worn from the late 17th into the 19th century, ancestor of the modern necktie. Almost invariably made of or trimmed with lace. The female version was a kind of scarf or neckerchief, the male a piece of fabric tied round the throat, ends hanging down in front, filling the gap of the waistcoat and replacing the collar.

Croquets: Croquets are braid trim added to clothing to give a chic look. Croquets for example are added to edge the collars of blouses, smocks, rompers, and dresses according the mother's sewing skills.

Culotte: The French word "culotte" has been used for a wide variety of garments. It usually means some form of shortened pants or trousers. The modern French meaning of culotte is short pants. Short pants are cut at or above the knee. Trousers cut below the knee we have generally referred to as knee pants if closed with buttons or left open. Trousers cut below the knee and gathered or closed with buckles we have referred to as knickers. Short pants have been referred to by different names in England. The English generally refer to short pants as "short trousers". They also used to refer to them as "knickers" although that term has for many years not been commonly used and more frequently is used to mean ladies underwear. HBC has noted that "culotte have been commonly used for any kind of shortened pants, including kneepants, knickers, and short pants. More specific terms for different types of shortened trousers developed in the 20th century. Readers may want to consult the HBC page that disucsses culotte terminology.

Culotte à pont:

Culotte avec braguette:

Culotte bloomer: We have also noted the term "culotte bloomer" (bloomer short pants) for the suspender and button-on romper bottoms worn with shirts and blouses.

Culotte bouffante: This litterally means "puffed short pants". It was another term for rompers, but not used as commonly as "barboteuse". I have only noted the term used in France, but it may have been used in Belgium as well.


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Created: October 26, 2001
Last updated: February 20, 2003