American Sailor Suits: Pants Types--Knickers

boys sailor suits
Figure 1.--This unidentified American boy is wearing a sailor suit in a family snapshot. It is undated, but was probably taken in the 1910s. His sailor blouse has double-breasted styling. He wears knickers with long black stockings.

We see some American boys wearing knicker sailor suits, but they were not very popular as other types of pants. These knickers were more substantial with more sophisticated hem closures than the bloomer knickers worn as part of tunic suits. We have only noted knickers sailor suit to any extent in America. Yet even in America they were not very common. American boys only wore knicker sailor suits for a few years, mostly during the 1910s and to a lesser extent the 20s. Most of the images we have found of knicker sailor suits come from the 1910s. A good example is Harry Reynolds in 1914. Some boys may have worn knicker sailor suits in the late-19th century, but they were not very common and we have not yet found any examples in the photographic record. Knickers were very popular for American boys in the early 20th century. They generaly replaced knee pants during the lte 1900s. They were almost universally worn in the 1910s. I'm not entirely sure why knicker suits were not all that common when knickers were so commonly worn by boys. Knickers were so common that one would think that they were also be widely worn with knicker suits. We think it may have been before the 1920s that younger boys mostly wore sailor tunics and after the 20s short pants sailor suits were more common. Here age was a factor, by the 20s we see mostly younger boys wering sailor suits and short panrts were becoming increasingly popular for younger boys. Older boys who might have worn sailor suits with knickers were more likely to wear regular (sack) suits than sailor suits. You do not see as old American boys wearing sailor suits as in Europe, especially in the 20th century.


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Created: 10:29 PM 6/28/2008
Last updated: 6:14 PM 2/25/2017