Sailor Suits: Modern Uses

Boys continued to commonly wear sailor suits in Europe and America through the 1920s and 30s. The popularity and usage varied substantially from country to country. Quite old boys wore sailor suits on the comtinent during the 1920s and 30s, often with short pants. This was particularly true in Germany and France as well as some other cointinental countries. . British boys generally didn't wear sailor suits commonly after 8 or 9. This was because boys from affluent families generally were sent off to boarding school at about 8 years of age. These boys generally did not want to wear sailor suits as they would be teased by the other boys. Instead they tended to wear their school uniforms. In both America and Britain by the 1940s, only younger boys were wearing sailor suits. Sailor suits do continue to be worn in the 1990s in specufic, specialized circumstances. Often they are worn now as costumes rather than as normal clothing. We see saolot suits become woen for more specialized occassions and hroups such as wedding costumes, First Communions, choirs, and youth groups.


Figure 7.--Sailor suits were worn by many German boy choirs, but not choirs in England and France. Some German and Austrian choirs still wear sailor suits.

Choir Uniforms

Sailor suits were commonly used as uniforms for boy choirs on the continent. This was especially the case of German and Austrian choirs. But choir boys in Poland and other countries also wore sailor suits. Choirs in England and France, however, did not wear sailor suits. The Vienna Choir Boys are the most familiar boys choir wearing sailor suits, but they were several other German boy choirs. Some are still active and continue to wear sailor suits. Some of the choirs have long histories and the sailor suits are relatively recent inovations. Some of the choirs had military uniforms before the First World War, but then shifted to sailor suits. I'm not positive why this was, but assume it was connected with the German repulsion with war following the catrorophic losses in the war. Somehow the sailor suit was not viewed similarly, perhaps because it was more associate with boys wear. One source also suggests that sailor suits wee selected for the Vienna Choir Boys because Vienna boys commonly wentbto church dressed in silor suits. This may have also been the case in Germany and Scandinavia. These different choirs have worn different uniform styles.

School Uniforms

European boys commonly wore sailor suits to school until the 1930s. This seems to have been particularly true in Germany. It was less common in France and Italy wear boys wore smocks and England where boys generally wore bkazers to school. I only know of a few schools which had sailor suits for school uniforms, a school in Guyaquil, Ecuador. We notice sone private Catholic schools in France. And we note a public (private secondary school in England.

Sea Scouts

Sea Scouts in several countries had uniforms based on the uniforms of the national navies. The boys until the 1960s generally wore short pants rather than the long pants wore by actual sailors.

Ring Bearer at Formal Wedding

One popular style for ring bearers and ushers at formal weddings are sailor suits. Prince William, for example, wore a sailor suit at his uncle's wedding.

Orphanages

We note an orphanage in Yugoislavia after World wat I that had a sailor suit uniform.

Religious Events

We note many boys wearing sailor suits for First Communion. This was especially common in Europe. We see a lot of French boys wearing sailor suits for First Communion. We notice traditional styling often being used. Sailor suits were also worn for First Communion in other countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain. It was less common in America and Britain. We probably would have seen Eastern European boys wearing sailor suits as well, except that Communist authirities attmpted to supress religious practice, especially teaching religion to children. We also see boys wearing sailor suits for Confirmation. This was especially common in Germany before World War II, but was not very common after the War. We also see Belgian boys wearing sailor suits. Here we are not sure about the event. Belgian boys were mostly Cathloic, yet they seem to be young teenagers, which was more Cofirmation age.








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Created: 4:04 AM 8/9/2008
Last updated: 4:04 AM 8/9/2008