American Sailor Suits: Chronology--The 1880s

Figure 1.-- This unidentified American boy in a caginet card portrait wears a very plain sailor suit. The cut is traditional, but without detailing. The vest and the white collar help to date the prtait tothe 1880s. Note the striped syockings and homberg hat. The studio was Kurtz in New York.

The sailor suit as a boy's fashion was first popularized by Queen Victoria in England during the 1840s. It seems to have begun to catch on in America after the Civil war during the 1870s. And we do see examples of sailor outfits in the 1860s and 70s. The sailor suyit does not, howver, seem to have been a major style. But it was not until the 1880s that the sailor suit emerged as a principal boys' fashion. We note both traditional and non-traditional styles. There was still consdiderable variation in the styling, depite the fact that ready made clothes was beconiong increasingly common. Detailing was still highly varible. We see boys wearing traditionally styled sailor suits during the 1880s. A good example is Michael Carmichael Carr in 1880. A wide range of non-traditional styles seem to have been even more common. Here we see a sailor blouse with a traditional cut, but the boy seems to be wearing a vest and white collar without a dickey (g\figure 1). Many suits in the 1880s seem to have diverged substantially from tradtional styling. Pants with side stripes seemed particularly popular through the 1880s, but went out of style in the 90s. Most boys wore knee pants sailor suits. We see some long pants sailor suits, but rarely sailor suits with knickers.Almost all Americn boys except the very youngest wore long stockings.


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Created: 3:01 AM 4/16/2011
Last updated: 3:01 AM 4/16/2011