Vocabulaire en Français des Vêtements Garçon/
Boys' French-Language Clothing Glossary

Figure 1.--This Belgian boy in a kneepants sailor suit is shown in a 1920 postcard. He poses patriotically with the Belgian flag after liberation from the Germans in 1918. The card reads "Long Live Liberty". Belgium played a key role in the War and it was the valiant resistance of the Belgian Army in the opening weeks of the War that probably prevented the Gerrmans from reaching Paris.

Many French words will be familar to English readers. This is in part because the French language, brought by the Normans, played such an important role in the development of the English language. The importance of France in the world of fashion has also caused many French terms to be incorporated into English in modern times. The entemology in fact provides use insights into fashion trends. The listing will also assist our French readers in finding HBC pages of interest.

Beaucoup de mots français seront familiers aux lecteurs anglais. C'est en partie parce que la langue française, apportée par les Normands, a joué un rôle si important dans le développement de l'anglais. L'importance de la France dans le monde de la mode a également fait que beaucoup de mots français ont été de nos jours incorporés à l'anglais. L'étymologie fournit en fait des notions des tendances de la mode. La liste aidera également nos lecteurs français à trouver des pages de HBC d'intérêt.

Liste en Langue Française/
French-Language Listing

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.

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.

A French HBC reader points out that "glossaire" in French has a different meaning than "glossary" in English which would seem to be a comparable word. The modern French word "glossaire" now has a special meaning, it is a list of technical words used for the theatre and literature and science. He thinks a better word for "glossary" is "vocabulaire des vêtements garçon".

Alphabetical A-C listings

Alphabetical D-L listings

Alphabetical M-Z listings

Note de Traduction/Translation Note

Some French lanuage words have clear English-language equivalents. Other words have a more complicated translation. We have tried our best to direct the reader to the appropriate English-language page. However, if you do not think that the link and defintion are correct, please let us know.

Certains mots français ont des équivalents clairs en anglais. D'autres mots ont une traduction plus compliquée. Nous avons fait de notre mieux pour diriger le lecteur vers la page de langue anglaise appropriée. Cependant, si vous pensez que le lien et la définition ne sont pas corrects, nous vous prions de nous en informer.


A French reader suggests some basic pointers on pronouncing French words. In French generaly and following some basic rules, words are pronunced as they are spelled, except for the letter "h" and the last consonant. The vowels are pronounced: i (as bee), ou (as shoe), é (as bed), a (as add), o, au, eau (as lot), e (as amend), as è (as date). The plural in French is formed by adding "s" and not pronunced.

Pays de Langue Française/French Speaking Countries

French speakers may be especially interested in the work that HBC has done on boys' clothing in French speaking countries. We have included not only France, but countries in which only a part of the population speaks French. There seem to be very limited differences in the French spoken around the world. A French reader writes, "It's true , french language is the same averywhere around the word; in Paris, Haïti, Africa, Pacific, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, and others. The little difference with our freinds of Canada can be perfectly understand by us."

Les francophones pourraient être particulièrement intéressés par le travail que HBC a effectué sur les vëtements de garçons dans les pays de langue française. Nous avons inclus non seulement la France, mais en outre des pays dont seulement une partie de la population parle français.

(La) Belgique

I have relatively little written information on Belgian boys clothes, but belive they have basically followed French syles--at least among the French population. Belgium at various historical periods was part of France, as recently as the early 19th century. Even after Belgium became an independent nation--following France's defeat in the Napolionic wars, the powerful uniting force of language has cemented cutural and social ties. One trend in the 20th century has been the cultural convertism of Belgium. New fashions sometimes do not become established in Belgium as qyickly as in France.


Canada was of course founded as a French colony in the 16th century. The original French colony was centered on the fur trade, but in the 18th century, the French and English struggled over control of North America. The French loss of Quebec in the French and Indian War (7 Years War) sealed the future of Canada and in fact North America as an English-speaking cultural area. At the time of Confederation (1867) , there were 3.25 million people settled in the provinces that comprised Canada. Over the next three decades hundreds of thousands more arrived. Few of these immigrants came from France or learned French as their new language. Most settled in Anglo-Canada. This imigration significantly diluted the French proportion of Canada's population. The Catholic share of the population, however, was not diluted because of the large number of Irish immigrants. The leadership in Canada, however, continued to be dominated by English, Protestant Canadians. The French in Canada were thus relegated a second-class role and until after World War II were generally dscriminated against, in large measure explaining current Quebec demands for independence. The French in Quebec maintained their cultural and longuistic identity and this has included differences in clothing trends, French Canadians being more influenced by France than English-Canadians.


France next to England has probably had more influence on boyswear than virtually any country, at least until American fashions began to spread in the post World War II era. The French contribution to boys' wear has primarily been stlistic. French boys adopted many sdtyles created in England and then embelioshed them. Many English styles like the sailor suit became popular in France. Relatively few boys' garments were created in France. Perhaps the skeleton suit--although HBC is still uncertain about the origins of this famed garment. The classic image of the French boy is a boy on his way to school wearing a beret and colarless dark-colred smock with short pants. HBC has relatively little written information on the historical development of French boys clothes, but will sketch out a basic outline on the basis of various photographs and magazine illustrations that I have seen. Hopefully French visitors to HBC will eventually provide some historical details.


Swiss boys are best known in the popular mind with wearing lederhosen an hiking in the Alps. While lederhosen were worn, Swiss boys more commonly dressed like boys in other European counties. Because of the large German and French speaking populations, clothing styles in those countries have been particularly popular. Italian fashions have also had soe influence, but the Italian-speaking population is relatively small.

Other countries

French is spoken in many pther countries espec ially Aftrican countries like Senegal and Cote d'Ivore. It is also spoken in the Hait and French Overseas Departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Martinique). We have no information at this time on boys' clothing trends in these countries.

French Language Differences

Just as with English, there are differences between French usage in different countries. A French-speaking HBC reader reports, for example, that there are many differences between the French language in France and Quebec (not to speak of the delicious Canadian accent) these differences being not only in an other meaning of a given word, but also the numerous old French words lost in France and jaleously kept in Quebec. Some of these differences may include clothing terms, but we do not yet have such details. One pronounced differences beteen French regions, however, are disappearing. The different Belgian and Swiss accents are also disappearing.

French Language History

We have wanted to prepare a history of the French language, much as we did for the English language. Our limited knowledge of French has, however, impaied that project. A Canadian reader has come to our assistance and provided some basic information.

Pictoral Language Text Book

A HBC reader has provided us a pictorial dictionary for Germans learning French. The words are in French, but the clothing depicted are primarily German. The book is entitled, ??????? and was published in Leipzig in 1937. Thus it gives a few of German fashions as well as school scenes. It does not, however, provide the German words for the pictures depicted, only the French terms. The costumes depicted though are German clothes of the mid-1930s. This is obvious on some pages such as the one on the Army. Our reader writes, "I've been reading through it. The book is very interesting in what they depict, not only fashion but school supplies, cars, amd much more." Hopefully HBC can provide the English and German equivalents as well as an assessment of the German clothes depicted.


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Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
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Created: September 18, 2001
Last updated: 2:39 AM 3/6/2008