Canadian Boys' Clothes: Garments--Sailor Suits


Figure 1.--Canadian boys as in America and Europe also wore sailor suits. We have little information about this fashion specifically related to Canada. A Canadian reader has provided us a photograph of an English Canadian boy wearing a traditionally styled sailor suit in 1928.

Canadian boys as in America and Europe also wore sailor suits. We have little information about this fashion specifically related to Canada, largely because our Cnadian archive is still relatively limited. As far as we can tell, Canadian boys wore the same style of sailor suits as worn in the United States. There may have been more of a British influence in the mid 19th century, but by the turn of the 20th century they seem to be wearing rather American style sailor headwear and suits. An example is a family portrait taken by an itinerate photographer, probably on New Brunswick. The two boys in the family wear matching white sailor suits with floppy tam-like headwear. A Canadian reader has provided us a photograph of an English Canadian boy wearing a traditionally styled sailor suit in 1928. The suit is quite a bit different than those worn by American boys. Perhaps it is based on an English style. The cap is a type we have not noted being commonly worn in the 1920s, either in America or England. We are insure to what extent it was a popular boy's style in Canada. We also notice Canadian boys wearing tunic suits done in the sailor style.

Canadian Suits

Canadian boys as in America and Europe also wore sailor suits. We have little information about this fashion specifically related to Canada. A far as we can tell, Canadian boys wore the same style of sailor suits as worn in the United States and Britain. Of course as a British dominion, the Royal Navy traditions are particularly important in Canada. There were no complicating factors such as in France with different uniform items. The Canadian Navy uses the same uniform as the British Royal Navy. Fasion influences from America are also a factor.

Chronology

We know that Camnadian boys wore sailor suits in the 19th century. Fashion industries tended to base their boys' sailor suits on their national naby's uniform. Canada in the 19th cebtury as a Dominion did not have a navy and relied on the British Royal Navy. When Canada did begin to form a small navy, they used Royal Navy styles. (Canada in World War II would create one of the lasrgest navies in the world to fight the German U-boats.) We know very little about the mid-19th century. We know a little more about the late-19th century. There may have been more of a British influence in the mid-19th century, but by the turn of the 20th century they seem to be wearing rather American style sailor headwear and suits. this is a little complicated because Royal Navy styles influenced the uniform of most other navies, invcluding the U.S. Navy. An example is a family portrait taken by an itinerate photographer, probably on New Brunswick. The two boys in the family wear matching white sailor suits with floppy tam-like headwear. A Canadian reader has provided us a photograph of an English Canadian boy wearing a traditionally styled sailor suit in 1928. The suit is quite a bit different than those worn by American boys. Perhaps it is based on an English style.

Garments

The cap is a type we have not noted being commonly worn in the 1920s, either in America or England. We are insure to what extent it was a popular boy's style in Canada. One of the charms of the sailor suit is that it was the enlised uniform, even when worn by royalty and the very rich. We also nte a strange triangular cap worn iby boys in New Bruswick. We believe that thee are exceptions and that the standard sailor headwear worn in Britain and America were more common. Our limited archive of Canadian images, however, makes this difficult to prove. Other sailor grments such as middy blouses and slong and short pants seem failrly standard in in Canada. We also notice Canadian boys wearing tunic suits done in the sailor style.

Conventions

The sailor suit was an especially flexible outfit. We notice boys wearing sailor suits for a wide range of occassions. We note boys wearing sailor suits for plsay as well as dress up occassions like weddings abd other formal events. And we notice boys wearing sailor suits for a wide range of occassins between these two poles such as school, informal events, casual wear and other events. The standard sailor suit could be worn both for play and dressing up. This was especially the case for suits with traditional styling. Here traditional means styling like actual naval uniforms. But there were sailor suits made specifically for both play and formal events. Here both the fabric used and the design of the suits were factors in determining the approptriateness and suitability of the outfit.







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Created: February 27, 2003
Last updated: 12:51 AM 10/1/2013