Figure 1.--This little American boy wears a velvet dress with clear sailor styling. He has a sailor dickey and front-"V", bit there is no lapel and back flap. It looks somewhat like a tunic , but note the slightly puffed sleeves.
Many mothers chose sailor dresses for their todlers as well as older boys. They was a wide variety of dresses with varioys types of sailor styling. These were one-piece dresses in most ways identical to the dresses worn by a boy's sister. In fact if he was a younger brother he might actually wear his sister's hand-me-down dresses. Some of these dresses looked much like middy blouses, but the designers took more liberties with the classic middy blouse than when producing actual middy blouses. Some of these dresses had the "V" collar andback flap, but others had more subtle sailor styling elements. Some of these dresses had lace or ruffles around the collar--giving a decidely non-sailor look.
Some sailor dresses had some clear salor elements, but were not traditional sailor dresses with "V"-front collars and flaps. Some had only sailor symbols, other had a variety of sailor motifs. These styles here could be quite varies. Of course some has such limited sailor styling that they should not be called a sailor dress. Here it it is difficult to establish a line at which these garments hould nolonger be called a sailor dress.
Some dresses were syled with the upper part in the look of a classic middy blouse with a "V" front collar and square back flap, often with three stripes. We call these traditional styles, in the sence tht the top part was a tyle actually based on uniform actually worn by sailors. The dress would have a dicky between the "V", often with a star, anchor, or other nautical look.
Some sailor dresses had a variety of non-traditional sailor elements. Here thgere were also many varied styles. They were clearly sailor styling, but not ones that ever worn by actual sailors. One ofthe major non-trditional styles was working on the "V"-front collar, aking it a square or some other shape.
Beginning in the 1990s many more elaborate sailor frocks appeared. They were worn by both boys and girls. They were roughly based on the classic middy vlouse, but the sailor collar was trimed in lace and ruffles and often the square back of the collar was given a variety of different treatments. This style was still common in the 1900s, but declined in popularity during the 1910s.
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