Sailor Reefer Jackets: Catalog Advertisements

Figure 1.--This reefer suit (No. 4208) was offered by Sears in 1897. Notice the tie that the boy in the illustration wears.

Clothing catalogs are an invaluable source of information on the chronology of reefer jackets and suits, as well as many other garments and styles. The catalogs also provide details on styles, materials, and the ages (sizes) of the boys who wore these outfits.

Sears, 1897

Sears in their 1897 catalog has this advertisement for a sailor reefer suit:

No. 4208

Our $4.95 two-piece reefer suit, sometimes called the military reefer, is the most sightly reefer suit made regardless of price. It comes in sizes three to eight. In ordering be sure to state age of boy and say wheter large or small for his age. If to be sent by mail enclose 28 cents extra to pay postage. This suit is made from ablack and blue mixed imported wool cashmere; the background is black with blue mixture on very small dots which gives it a very neat and stylish appearance. It is of the latest patterns from a very relaible woolen meal and wear resistant cloth. The coat is gotten upvery stylish with a large square sailor collar bound all around with wide military black braid and with one row of fancy gilt soutache braid, [HBC note: Soutache is a narrow braid of mohair, silk, or rayon used for triming. Soutache braid on a boy's suit in 1897 would probably have been silk.] one row of black braid, making a very handsome effect. The collar is lined throughout wityh a good quality imported Italian lining, [HBC note: Note how commonly that American ads in the 19th century mention imported fabrics, especially when dealing with fancy fabrics such as those used in linings.] has large lapel nicely made and pressed, lined througout with the same material as suit, two pockets on one side one pocket on the other, each covered with flaps. The three flaps are very nicely finished and bound with famcy wide military black braid. Sleeves are finished with one row of wide military braid, one row of narrow gilt soutache and one of narrow black soutache braid. Double breasted, six very fancy polished gilt buttons. Pants made of the same material, to match the coat, with reinforced waistband, pants reinforced and well stitched throughout, ornamental at bottom of leg with three fancy satin bows and buckles. The opants are finished with three pockets, viz: Two side pockets and one hip pocket nicely bound and finished, as well as made and finished as a $10.00 tailor made man's pants. The back of the waisrtband is finished with elastic loops to precent buttons coming off the waist. has very small

Christopher Wagner

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Created: March 25, 2001
Last updated: March 25, 2001