English Boys' Headwear: Sailor Styles


Figure 1.--This unidentified English boy was probably photographed about 1890. The cabinent card was taken in Littlehampton a minor seaside resort. The boys wears a broad-brimmed sailor hat. Notice the chin strap. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

Engish boys have worn a wide range of headwear. Sailor headwear has been on of the most popular styles and extreemly varied. The sailor hat first appeared as a boyswear style in the 1840s when thge Royal Family began dressing the princes in sailor suits. The fashion gradually became popular in England, in part because of the prestige of the Royal Navy. The fashion soon spread soon spread to other countries, both in Europe as well as America. It was the broad-brimmed sailor hat that was first worn. We see these wide-brimmed hats in various styles. Variations appeared in both the crown and brim. We notice flat and rounded crowns. There were also brims of different widths and configuration. After the turn of the 20th century, some of these hats had turned-down brims. We also note in the 19th century a sailor had with a narrow brim. It was dark and shiny. It seems to have been a Royal Navy style that was not very popular for boyswear. Gradually boys began wearing sailor caps as well. The initial inspiration was Royal Navy uniforms. There were many popular styles of sailor caps. The large number of sailor styles were in part due to the long period in which sailor fashions were popular for boys, about 100 years. We notice sailor hats with various size brims. There were sailor caps with flat tops, soft crowns, tams, and other styles. The styles usually followed the standard uniform styles of the Royal Navy, but some like tams were specifically for children. These were notable in that sailor headwear was often worn by boys and girls. This was one of the few headwear styles that were gender neutral.

Chronology

The sailor hat first appeared as a boyswear style in the 1840s when the Royal Family began dressing the princes in sailor suits. A famous painting by Winterhalter is perhaps the first known image of a boy wearing a sailot hat abd suit. The fashion gradually became popular in England, in part because of the prestige of the Royal Navy. The fashion soon spread soon spread to other countries, both in Europe as well as America. We see large numbers of images of boys wearing sailor headwear by the late-19th century. We note severalstyles of both hats and caps. This continues after the turn-of-the 20th century into the 1900s abnd 1910s. For some reason, however, the sailor suit declined in popularityb after World War I in England. We are not sure why this was. The sailor suit continued to be a popular sdtyle on the Continent, especially in Germzny and to a lesser extent France.

Types

Engish boys have worn a wide range of headwear. Sailor headwear has been on of the most popular styles and extremly varied. It was the broad-brimmed sailor hat that was first worn. We see these wide-brimmed hats in various styles. Variations appeared in both the crown and brim. We notice flat and rounded crowns. There were also brims of different widths and configuration. After the turn of the 20th century, some of these hats had turned-down brims. We also note in the 19th century a sailor had with a narrow brim. It was dark and shiny. It seems to have been a Royal Navy style that was not very popular for boyswear. Gradually boys began wearing sailor caps as well. The initial inspiration was Royal Navy uniforms. There were many popular styles of sailor caps. The large number of sailor styles were in part due to the long period in which sailor fashions were popular for boys, about 100 years. We notice sailor hats with various size brims. There were sailor caps with flat tops, soft crowns, tams, and other styles. The styles usually followed the standard uniform styles of the Royal Navy, but some like tams were specifically for children.

Gender

These were notable in that sailor headwear was often worn by boys and girls. This was one of the few headwear styles that were gender neutral.






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Created: April 28, 2003
Last updated: 12:52 AM 8/8/2015