English Sailor Suits: Ages--8 Years Old

Figure 1.--This English CDV portrait shows an uidentified boy wearing a rather plain knee pants sailor suit with long stockings. He looks to be about 7-8 years old. The portrait was probanly taken in the 1880s. The studio was Treble in Belgravia, Central London.

Most boys stopped wearing sailor suits after about that age. Some older boys may have worn sailor suits, but we do not note teenagers, even younger teenagers wearing them even to school. We see older boys wearing sailor suits on the Continent, especially in the 20th century. Well-to-do boys began preparatory school at about 7-8 years of age. This varied somewhat from family to family. Some boys began a little later and thus might wear sailor suits a little longer. Of course only a small percentage of boys attended prep schools, but they were boys from affluent families. We are not positive that this was the reason age trends were different in England than the Continent, but it seems the most likely reason. Perhaps readers will have additional insights here. And the sailor suit was most popular with well-to-do families and middle-class families that were most likely to be able to aford private schools. We see some younger boys at prep schools wearing sailor suits in the later-half of the 19th century. This was, however, when prep schools were just beginning to become established. Many early prep schools did not have uniforms. Of course only a limited number of English boys went to private schools, but they had a major impact on boys' fashions during the 19th and early-20th centuries when sailor suits were most commonly worn.


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Created: 12:12 AM 7/1/2010
Last updated: 5:24 AM 4/23/2011