United States Sailor Caps: Chin Straps

Figure 1.-- This postcard portrait shows an American boy wearing a sailor cap with his chin strap. The portrait is undated, but was probably taken about 1910. The boy was 5 years old. The card is enscribed "Mr. Bill Longton, Clayton NY." This might be an sddress rather than the boy's name.

Chinstraps or chinstays are used to secure headwear in the head. They do not show up on many photographs of boys wearing sailor headwear. Most sailor caps and hats before World war I came with chin straps. For studio portraits they were almost always tucked away in side the cap or hat. So they do not show in most portraits. When worn outdoors they were might be used, especially if it was a little windy. This was especially the case with wide-brimmed sailor caps because they were so easily caught in the wind. But caps could be vlown off in the wind as well. Chin straps were not as common for other caps, although thery were for other hats boys wore like rounded-crown hats. I think part of the reason for this is that sailor caps were based on naval caps which did commonly come with chin straps. Family snapshots only begin appearing in numbers after the turn-of-the 20th century and sailor suits declined in popularity after World War I. Sailor hats virtually disappeared after the War and sailor caps (exceot for swabbie caps) went out of fashion faster than sailor suits. There is thus a rather narrow window in which we actually see boys weating chin straps with their sailor caps.


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Created: 2:36 AM 7/1/2010
Last updated: 2:36 AM 7/1/2010