What Kids Wore Tempo Doeloe

Have you ever wondered what kids wore during Dutch colonialism in Indonesia? Compared to women’s and men’s clothing tempo doeloe, I guess Indonesian kid’s fashion today is the most influenced by Dutch colonialism, since the reminiscence – such as school uniform –  is apparent until now.

According to the books the British Council lent us – Tropenecht: Indische en Europese kleding in Nederlands-Indie by Dorine Bronkhorst D. and Esther Wils; and Uit Indie Geboren by Wim Williems, Remco Raben, Edy Seriese, Liane Van Der Linden and Ulbe Bosma – I found the photos and explanation that show some fashion items worn by those kids for different occasions in tempo doeloe.


1. Tjelana Monjet

Tjelana Monjet (monkey pants) is the Indonesian version of jumpsuit. Photos that show children in this attire were captured around 1910s – 1930s. Tjelana monjet was mostly worn for leisure time. Kids often wore it when they play so it got dirty easily. Due to that fact, the mothers usually kept several pieces of tjelana monjet for their children. The material could range from unbleached cotton to colored and printed fabrics. For little girl, tjelana monjet was sometimes slipped into the skirt.


2. Sailor Suit

Sailor suits became popular when the first 5 years old Edward, later Edward VIII, in 1840, was portrayed in a navy uniform. The sailor trend was later taken over by girls from the twenties. Sailor suit could be bought from shops in major European cities or through mail order. But usually, the mothers made sailor suit themselves or with the help of djait (tailor). The styles from the European fashion magazines were adapted due to increasing demands. Sailor suits were made of light materials, with short sleeves or no sleeve.


3. School Uniform

Apparently, white shirt, skirt and pants as school uniform style in tempo doeloe still exist until today. Mostly made of cotton, the material is suitable yet comfortable for children’s everyday wear. However, I also found some pictures where the students didn’t wear uniform to school. The girls were allowed to wear dresses while the boys simply wore short pants and shirt. It’s also reported that some boys wore belts made of genuine leather with brass buckle that showed their high social status.