*** sailor suits : American styles non-traditional

U.S. Sailor Suits: Styles--Non-traditional Jacket Suits

sailor suit styles
Figure 1.--This charming cabinet card shows a serious boy in a jacket sailor suit with his sister who wears a sailor dress. The jacket has traditional stripe detailing, but was not like any real naval uniform. This one is styled rather like a cut-away jacket. This portrait is not dated, but looks to have been taken about 1900. The mount suggests it was taken about 1900-05, but in could have been taken in the late-1890s.

The first sailor suits were replicas of actual naval uniforms, but this soon changed. There were, however, a wide variety of sailor suits styles, especially blouse styles. These varied blouse styles were common in the 1860s and 70s. Some seamstresses used the same imaginination on boys sailor suits as they did with girl's dresses. Some were rather elaborate, varying substantially from actual naval uniforms. The suit here is a good example (figure 1). Another good example is the St. Clar boys. We also notice sailor suits done with jackets rather than the traditional middy blouse. While the jackets commonly had sailor detailing they were not based on any actual naval uniforms. As far as we can tell, by the turn of the 20th century these non-traditional styles had largely disappeared.


We also notice sailor suits done with jackets rather than the traditional middy blouse. While the jackets commonly had sailor detailing they were not based on any actual naval uniforms. The standard sailor suit was a middy blouse and matching pants. We also note sailor suits that were done with jackets rather than middy blouses. These jacket suits were not commonly made like actual uniforms. (There were sone naval uniforms made with jackets in the early-19th century, but they were not very common.) The boys suits with these jackets often used naval colors (mostly navy blue), and often the striped detailing common on sailor suits, but the cut of the jackets were quite varied. We mostly see these suits in the late-19th century or very early-20th century. These were dress up garments while the standard middy blouse suit could be more varied, worn for school and play as well as dress up garments. The garments under the jackets varied.


Vests are not a garment usually associated with sailor suits. The basic blouse sailor suit was a very simple garment, the anthesis of trends in the late-19th and early-20th century for elaborate , even fancy dress, including children's fashions. This impacted the sailor suit. We see the intriduction of jackets, making it more like standard suits boys were wearing. We also see the introduction of vdests which were very common with suits at the time. we see countless boys wearing three-piece suits in the photographic record. It is difficult to tell just what these garments were . We note the term 'vestee' being used. They seem to have developed out of the dickies or shields that evolved to cover the space created by the standard V-collar of the sailor suit. Unfiortunaeky, we don't get to see just wj=hat this garment is in the ophotography of the day. The boy here has a garment with the same stripe detailing as his V-collar. It looks to be more than a simple dickie. We have other images showing that the vestees were more like a vest han a shield. Unlike true vests, they rarely buttoned up the front. Not all boys wore vests with jackets. We someboys wearing blouses instead. This seems less common, but we do see some exanoles. We are not entirely sure about the chronoklogy of these garments, but most of the ones we have found are from the 1890s-1900s decades. That is just our initial assessment.


Most of the styling of a traditional sailor suit was on the blouse. We note some 19th century suits with styling on the pants, but this was quite rare in the 20th century. While much of the styling of sailor blouses was based on actual uniforms, this was less true for the pants. The pants of naval uniforms were not commonly decorated with elborate detailing. We do note vertical side stripes in the 19th century. Rarely were the strips detailing on the blouse repeated on the trousrs. Many were bell-bottom trousers. This was a style offered in some suits. In fact, during the early 20th entury, bell-bottoms as part of a sailor suit was spme of the rare long pants boys wore. They were also commonlu offerd as knee pants, short pants, and to a lesser extent knickers. Another factor is the fabric. Sailor blouses were sometimes done in shirting rather than heavier suit fabric. The oants were more commionly done in the heavier suiting fabric. Thuis the fabric is more likely to match jackets than blouses, but blouses for winter warb were sometimes done in the heavoer fabric.


Sailor Suit Country Related Pages:
[Return to theMain U.S. country sailor suit styling page]
[Return to theMain U.S. country sailor styling page]
[Austrian] [Belgian] [Danish] [Dutch] [English] [French] [German] [Italian] [Polish] [Swiss] [Ulster]

Other Related Pages:
[Sailor suits] [Kilts] [Smocks] [Pinafores] [Sailor Hats] [Blouses]
[Ring Bearers] [Long hair] [Ringlet curls] [Hair bows] [Bangs] [Collars] [Bows]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to clothing styles]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 9:49 PM 6/27/2009
Last updated: 1:27 AM 2/2/2014