The two basic garments associated with the sailor suit are a middy blouse or jacket type top and pants. French boys wore both classic middy blouses as well as many stlistic variations. French boys have wore long bellbottoms as well as kneepants and short pants. Knickers were also worn, but primarily the bloomer type worn by younger boys. A variety of other garmnetrs such as dickies and black silks scarves were also common. French boys wore many kinds of straw hats with their sailor suits, including the traditional wide-brimmed style with streaming ribbons. They also wore an exclsusively French style, copying the hats of French sailors--soft white caps with red pompoms like the caps worn by French sailors. Footwear also varied. Strap shoes were common until the 1930s. Long stockings were less common than in America. Some boys wore kneesocks, but three-quarter length socks were most common.
The two basic garments most associated with the sailor suit are a middy blouse and matching pants. These two garments are the most commonly seen in the photographic record and thus are the basics sailor suit garments. The traditiional sailor suitwas a scakled-doiwn version of acrtual naval uniforms. Usually the blouse abd panbts matched. Some boys wre suits with a white blouse contrasting with dark pants. Sometimes the blouse and pants werea coordinated color. Some suits were made with jackets rather than the more traditional blouse. French boys wore both classic middy blouses as well as many stylistic variations. The traditional middy blouse was a pullover, but some
were made to button up the front. There were many blouse or jacket styles in the late-19th century that buttoned up. French boys have wore long bellbottoms as well as kneepants and short pants. Knickers were also worn, but primarily the bloomer type worn by younger boys. A variety of other garmnetrs such as dickies and black silks scarves were also commonly worn with the middy blouse.
The original sailor outfits in the mid-19th century were sailor suits styled on the middly blouses and trousers worn by actual sailors. Younger boys at the time, however, wore dresses and were not normally breched until 4-6 years of age. This meant that younger boys could not wear the increasingly popular sailor styling. As a result, skirted sailor outfits appeared so that younger boys coud wear the popular sailor style. HBC has noted sailor kilts or middy blouses and skirts before actual sailor dresses. The first such outfits we have noted were in the mid-1880s, but this is just a prelininary assessment at this time. This was about the same time that sailor outfits appeared for girls. In addition, many younger boyswore tunics with sailor styling.
Sailor suits did not provide much room dor additional garments, but there were some. The most obvious sailor headear. fvor the most opart the headwear was purchased seaparetly. We see both hats abd caps as well as berets. With caps and berets, mothers might match or try to match the colors. Coats were also purchased seoaretly. They were often done in navy blue, the oprimary color for winter sailor suits. And hosiery and footwear were also purchasws separately. Mothers might try to match the color of hosiery, We note various types of headerar which varied chronologically. Most of these garments were worn by bioth boys and girls.
Although not always pictured with a sailor suit, the sailor hat or cap was an important part of these outfits. Thus we need to asess the headwear worn with sailor suits. This was particularly true in the 19th and early-20th century when wearing caps and hats was more common than is the case today. Weare not entirelybsure as to the range of headwear worn with the outfits. French boys wore many kinds of straw hats with their sailor suits, including the traditional wide-brimmed style with ribbon streamers. They also wore an exclusively French style of cap, copying the hats of French sailors--soft white caps with red pompoms like the caps worn by French sailors. We do not have a lot of examples as our French archive is still fairly limited. This also limits our ability to assess chronolgical trends. We suspect that tams were worn, but we do not yet have examples to confim this.
A boy might also wear a coat with sailor styling. The most common type here was the reefer jacket. Duffle coats were worn by sailors, but these did not become popular for boys until the sailor suit had largely gone out of style following World War II. They were often dome in mnavy blue, the most commonm color for winter sailor suits.
Perhaps more so than many other garments, quote a few accesories went with the sailor suit. As mentioned above, the hat was probavly the most important. Other accesories included a dickey, sacrfe, and tin whistle--an accessory not always approved by quite-loving mothers.
French boys wore some other garments were worn with their sailor suits. Theese were primarily hosiery and shoes and sandals. All diiferent types of hosiery was worn. This varied over time. Three-quarter stockingsere most common in the late 19tyh century, but long stockings were also worn. Long stockings, however, were much less common than in America and some European countries such as Germany. After World War I, kneesocks became more common. Footwear also varied. Strap shoes were worn until the 1930s. Strap shoes are quite commonly depicted in the popular postcards of the era, bit were probably not as commonly worn as suggested by the cards.
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