Boy Choir Costumes

Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the medevil era. The choirs were associated with the Catholic Church, but choirs were also formed by some Protestant churches. Some of

Figure 1.--The Vienna Boys' Choir wears their trade mark sailor suits.
Europe's earlist post Roman schools were formed to educate choristers. Although there are now many girls' and mixed choirs, until recently the church choirs were all boy choirs. The costumes for formal church singing was eclesiastical wear dictated by the local church and in keeping with the dress of priests, vicars, and other churchmen.

As the choirs developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new costimes were developed for performanes of non-eclesiastical music, including sailor suits and velvet suits or other formal dress. German an Austrian boy choirs such as the Viennas choir boys often chose sailor suits. French and British choirs often had short pants uniforms. The British choristers usually wear the traditiinal English school boy uniforms of blazers and ties. Many private Catholic schools in France and Belgium has choirs. The boys there traditionally wore sweaters and short pants with white knee socks. Most of the English and French choirs since the 1980s have changed the uniform to long pants for all but the youngest boys. Several boys' choirs were formed in America, one of the most famous being the Harlem Boys' Choir. Since the 1970s, most choirs have gradually adopted blazers and long pants. A few choirs continue more traditional costumes like the Vienna Choir Boys who continue to wear sailor suits.

Figure 2.--French and Belgium Catholic schools with choirs often had uniforms with blue sweters and shorts and white knee socks.

Note: Space limitations do not permit me to provide more information on boys' choir costumes or historical photograhs. There is, however, additional information and many historical photographs on the expanded Boys Historical Clothing web site. For details click here >>>>>> Expanded Site.

Christopher Wagner

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