Sailor Suits: Germany--Individual Accounts

Figure 1.--Unfortunately many of the images we have found with German boys wearing sailor suits are unidentified. All we know about these boys is that they are from Angermünde. We would guess that this portrait was taken in the early 1900s. Of course the identical suits tells us that the boys are brothers.

There are numerous images of German children wearing sailor suits archived on HBC. The sailor suit was enormously popular in Germany and the photographic record reflects this. We plan to link a number of them here, but this will take some time. In some images we know something about the children in the images. More commonly all we have are unidentified image. In some cases the photograph provides us some clues about the children or at least some interesting details about sailor suits. We will load here the images that are either unidentified or illustrate some interesting aspect of German sailor suits.

The 1900s

Unidentified Boy (about 1905)

Here we have an unidentified German boy wearing a sailor suit. We know nothing about the boy except he is German. The studio mount had the street address, but no city. This proably means the portrait is was taken in Berlin. The photographer probably thought it was unecessary to indicate the city. The boy has a bsically traditional sailor suit, although the "v" collar is white. The portrait is unusual because of te headwear. I am not sure just what he is wearing on his head. It gives the portrait an ethbic look. Also note the floppy bow mother has added. His sailor suit has knickers rather than the more usual knee pants.

The 1910s

Unidentified Boy (about 1910)

Here is a portrait of a German boy taken about 1910. It is especially useful as it shows his dark sailor suit in detail, including a shoulder patch. Unfortunately the boy is not identified. The boy has close-cropped hair, common for boys waring sailor suits at the time.

Unidentified Brothers (1912)

Here we see two boys, presumably brothers, wearing similar but not identical kneepants sailor suits. Unfortunately all we know for sure is that the portrait was tken in 1912. The suits are made from stripped material. The suits are rather curious because if you look very carefully you can see that in one suit the stripes are vertical. In the other the material is horizontal. This is cyrious because for some reason the sztripes in sailor suits were almost always vertical. I'm not sure why. We suspect that these suits were hand sewn by the boys' mother. Also note the boys' close-cropped hair which was very common at the time for boys wearing sailor suits.

The 1920s

Herbert and Kurt Hender (1920s)

A HBC reader has provided us a remarkable series of photographs showing how Herbert and Kurt Hender were dressed at different ages in the 1920s. Their mother clealy liked sailor suits, although they were not always dressed in them. We do not know much about the family except that they were from Dusseldorf and were a very affluent family. The boys were dressed very smartly and they even had a nurse to take care of them. There is a set of seven photographs showing the clothing and hair styles at different times in the 1920s.

The 1930s

Reinhardt Reudel (1937)

We have an even fuller account of boy's clothing in 1937 in Swabia by Professor Reinhardt Rudel, who reminisces about the Bleyle sailor suits that he wore as a boy in 1937. The firm of Wilhelm Bleyle manufactured boys' sailor suits in the 1920s and 1930s in Stuttgart--sailor suits that were widely worn all over Germany, especially by middle-class and upper-class boys. When the Bleyle factory closed many years afterwards, Professor Rudel was moved to write a valuable and highly detailed account of his boyhood clothing and how he disliked having to wear a Bleyle sailor suit with long stockings. Our HBC reader has freely translated or in some cases paraphrased the most > interesting parts of Rudel's lengthy account below.


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Created: 7:58 PM 4/12/2006
Last updated: 7:24 PM 8/19/2006