The classic sailor suit came with some standard accessories, such as a lanyard and whistle which were quite popular with the boys. The most common accessory was the sailor scarfe. They did not come with all suits, but they were very common. This was normally made of plain black silk. These were the same scarves that were worn by actual sailors with their uniforms. These black scarves were worn with both blue and white suits, but there were also white scarves. The white scarves were mostly worn with white suits. In addition to these standard scarves, we notice some scarves with embridered nautical patterns. And in addition to these scarves we note nothers adding bows and other neckwear.
The origin of the bow was the black silk neckerchief originally worn by seamen and called a "sweat rag." Black was chosen because it didn't show dirt. It was worn around the forehead and the neck. Some men used the neckerchief or scarves in the days when pigtails were fashionable to protect their jackets. Some authors claim black was chosen in honor of Nelson after he was killed at Trafalgar. Black neckerchiefs were, however, used long before Nelson's death.
The bows and kerchiefs worn with sailor suits were generally fairly standard. They were mostly solid black. The bows and kerchiefs, like the suits themselves, were mostly dark blue or black. Most were dark blue or black. The dark bows were the most common, even for white sailor suits. Some of the sailor suits had variations on the standard black kerchief. Thesevvariations have varied widely
as well as the kind of knots in which they are tied. Some of the variations reflect the styles of the navies upon which the suits are based. In other cases they are stylistic inovations of the taylor or clothing designer. It was also affected by the whim of the mother. We see quite a number of boys
with varied neckwear. An example is Maurice Carmichael Tweedie, an English boy in 1878.
The bows worn on boys' middy blouses were usually, but not always much smaller than the collar bows worn with other suits such as Little Lord Fauntleroy suits. White bows were also worn, but not as commonly.
The bows and kerchiefs were tied in a wide variety of knots. British boys oftennhad plain black scarves tied with a smimple knor. A good example is an English boy, Carl Roos, in 1881. Many
reflected the knots used by national navies. Others were more showy.
Some were worn more like neckties. We note very different knots worn by American and German boys. The German knot is very destinctive. German boys also had a white string to hold the knotted scarve in place.
Boys wore scarves of various colors with their sailor suits. The standard sailor scarfe was normally made of plain black or very dark blue silk. These were the same scarves that were worn by actual sailors with their uniforms in navies around the world. These black scarves were worn with both blue and white suits, but there were also white scarves. The white scarves were mostly worn with white suits. Others colors were also worn. We notice an American boy in 1891 wearing a light-colored scarfe, but we are unsure about the actual color. We do notice some red scarves. A good example is an Austrian/German boy in 1911.
Almost all the bows and kerchiefs were solid colored material. Some American suits came with scarves that had insignias on them (figure 1). The insignia varied. One example was a symbol looking rather like a petty officer's insignia of rank. I do not know of any other country where such devises were worn on the bows.
The standard sailor scarfe was most commonly made of silk.
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