Sailor Cap Styles: Swabie Caps

Figure 1.--Notice that two of the boys at this 1937 saturday maintenee wore their swabie-type sailor caps.

The American Navy changed its uniform after World War I. Enlosted sailors began wearing a new style of cap--usually white. I am not sure precisely what it was called, but have heard the term "swabie cap"--derived from the term for washing the decks--swabing. I'm not sure precisly when the U.S. Naby introduced these caps, but they were being worn in the 1920s. American boys soon began wearing these caps. They became popular with boys and were commonly worn in the 1930s and 40s as a kind of casual cap. I remember I had one as a little boy in the 1940s. Baseball caps were not yet the old pervasive style. They were also a lot cheaper than flat caps. A lot of the boys that wore them got them from olde brothers in the Navy. They were not commonly worn after the early 50s as noys began to become more sophisticated about their clothes. Most of the boys I have seen wearing these caps were American boys. I'm not sure that they were nmot woirn in other countries, but clearly the country where they were most common was the United States. We see boys wearing them cassually such as these boys at the movies (figure 1). We also see boys wearing them in formal portraits.


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Created: October 30, 2003
Last updated: 11:13 PM 11/16/2004