Sailor Caps: Chinstays/Chinstraps

Figure 1.--This Americanm boy playing outdoors with his little sister in 1904 wears a soft white sailor cap with a tunic sailor suit. His cap has an elasticized chinstrap to hold it firmly in place. Click on the image for more details. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

Some sailor caps had a chinstay or chinstrap. Mostly these were elasticised strings. We also notice the dark blue mohair tape worn beneath the chin in order to keep the cap on in windy weather. It was the wide-brimmed sailor hats that were most likely to be carried away by the wind. Some sailor caps, however, were also quite large and might also catch the wind. When not in use it is worn tucked inside the sailor's cap. Boys caps did not commonly come with these chinstays. We note that many available images show boys wearing sailor caps wihout their chinstraps. We believe that this was because inside the studio, they were not needed and mothers tended to tuck them out of the way. They were worn by boys in most countries where sailor suits were worn, including America, England, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries. Many outside portraits are taken at a distance when the slender chin strap is not discernable. We believe that boys wore these chinstraps much more commonly than is suggested by the photographic record. Here we suspect that the boys as they got older didn't particularly like the chin straps and sometimes mother had to insist that they fix thm properly. We do not yet, however, have any written accounts to confirm this.


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Created: March 7, 2003
Last updated: 1:08 AM 7/26/2014