American Girl Sailor Outfits


Figure 1.--This AZO (four triangles up in the stmpo box) was dated September 1909, suggesting school outfits. But the white suits, gloves, and hats seem more like dress-up Subday schoolm outfits. The children wear sailor outfits and hats. Their names were Elenor and Edith O'Donnel and Many Cromwell. We would have thought that the boy and girl in the coordinsted sailor outfits were siblings, but apparently not. They may be cousins. We are not sure about the fourth child. All the children wear black long stockings. Also notice the white gloves.

Sailor suits were intially for boys. Eventually girls began wearing sailor outfits as well. We note both dresses with sailor elements as well actual sailor suits (with skirts rather than pants of course. We are still working out the chronology, but begin to see some girls' sailor dresses (1870s). We see both dresses with sailor styling and sailor blouses (called middy blouses) worn with skirts. The dresses were styled variously. Some had only a hint of sailor styling. Others had more obvious sailor styling and we note some traditionally styled drresses. The sailor suits could be the same as the ones worn by boys, only with skirts substituted for pants. We note sailor outfits becoming much more popular for girls (1890s). We also note girls wearing middy blouses with bloomers for gym in high schools (1900s). Sailor outfits, both sailor-styled dresses and sailor suits were very popular for girls schoolwear in the first half of the 20th century. The styling by the turn-of-the century was almost entirely very tradituonal. By this time only younger boys were wearing sailor outfits to school. We see teenage girls commonly wearing sailor-styled outfits to school, often with big hair bows rather than sailor hats. The popularity has ince varied over time, but we still see girls with sailor styled dresses. The garments included headwear (hats and caps), blouses, skirts, and dresses. While younger boys wore skirted sailor outfits, girls did not wear pants as part of sailor outfits.

Types of Sailor Outfits

The sailor suit was initually a boys' outfit Eventually girls began wearing sailor outfits as well. We note both dresses with sailor elements as well actual sailor suits (with skirts rather than pants of course). The primary element is of course the V-striped collar, but we also notice pointed striped collars as well. We are not entirely sure yet about the chronology of these two different types. We believe that sailor elements prepared in dresses befote actiual sailor dresses appeared, but we are tioll working on the chronlogy of these trends. The sailor outfits were generally plain outfits, especially the traditionally styled outfits. The girl here is a good example (figure 1). Notice how the outfit matche the sailor suit worn by her little brother. The dresses with sailor stle elements, however could be very fancy outfits. Dresses in the late 19t and very early 20th century could be very fancy with all sorsts of fussy elemnts. Some had sailor elements worked into them. In some dresses the sailor elements are only hinted at, sometimes the ailor elements are overwealmed by all he fusy lace and ruffles. In other instances the sailor elements are quite prominant. Of coure if the sailor elenents then the dess becomes an actual sailor dress.

Chronology

We are still working out the chronology of American girls' sailor outfits. Here of course we are takking primarily about dresses and other skirted outfits. We do not see girls' sailor outfits at mid-19th century, at least we have not yet found evidence of them. Nor do we see them in the 1860s. We do finally begin to see see some girls' sailor dresses in the 1970s. And by the 1890s sailor outfits were widly popular for both boys and girls. This continued into the early-20th century. We note sailor outfits becoming much more popular for girls (1890s). And we begin to see girls wearing non-skirted garments, at first middy blouses with bloomers. This became the standad outfit for high-school gym classes (1900s). Sailor outfits, both sailor-styled dresses and sailor suits were very popular for girls schoolwear in the first half of the 20th century. The styling by the turn-of-the century was almost entirely very tradituonal. We see girls of all ages wearing sailor outfits, especially middy blouses and skirts, but we see dresses as well. This included older teenagers in high school. This continued into the inter-war era. After world War II we see only younger primary-age girls wearing sailor dresses. But unlike for the boys, sailor styled outfit never disappeard for the girls We see them appearing in various manifestions. Dresses began to decline in poulatity in the late-20th century which is in part why the style became increasingly less prevalent.

Sailor Garments

We see both dresses with sailor styling and sailor blouses (called middy blouses) worn with skirts. The dresses were styled variously. Some had only a hint of sailor styling. Others had more obvious sailor styling and we note some traditionally styled dresses. The sailor suits could be the same as the ones worn by boys, only with skirts substituted for pants. The popularity has since varied over time, but we still see girls with sailor styled dresses. The garments included headwear (hats and caps), blouses, skirts, and dresses. While younger boys wore skirted sailor outfits, girls did not wear pants as part of sailor outfits. Girls generally wore dresses and blouses with sailor elements rather than sailor dresses like the ones worn by teenagers. And we notice roper outfits as well by the 1920s.

Age Trends

Sailor suits were intially for boys, mostly younger boys. Gradually we see somewhat older boys wearing them in America. They were for the most part boys in elementary (primry) school. we see a few younger teen boys wearing sailor suits, but not very many. We see few boys in high school or even juniot high school wearing them. Both American boys and girls wore sailor outfits. The traditional suits could be styled identically for both boys and girls. There were age differences. Unlike in Europe, sailor suits were mostly worn by pre-teen boys. After World War I in the 1920s we see increasingly younger boys wearing sailor suits. Girls were a different matter. While few Ameican teen boys wore sailor suits, we see many teen gorls wearing them. And as increasingly younger boys were wearing sailor outfits, we see sailor suits becoming very popular for teen girls. Sailor dresses were a staple for schoolwear just as sailor dressesss were popular for girls. We see teenage girls commonly wearing sailor-styled outfits to school, often with big hair bowsin the 1900s and 10s rather than sailor hats. Not only might older teenaged girls wear sailor dresses, but we see youngr women wearing them as well--mostly unmarried women in their 20s. This began to decline in the 1920s, but sailor dresses xontinued to be popular for younger girls into the 1950s.






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Created: 7:38 AM 9/28/2011
Last updated: 8:34 AM 5/5/2016