Figure 1.--This boy, probably about 1875, wears an early sailor suit before the middlky blouse had become the standard in America. Note his mother has pinned a lace collar on a fairlyb plain sailor suit. He has a rather small collar bow, but two additional bows, one on the sailor "V" collar and another inexplicably further down his sailor jacket.
The lace collar is not normally considered to be part of a sailor suit. Some mothers in the 19th cebntury, while liking the sailor style, considerd it to plain. As a result
mothers occassionally added a lace collar to a standard sailor suit or bought elaborate suits, especially sailor tunics, with lace trim worked into the styling. Sailior suits with lace collars were not an enormously popular style, however, enough images exist to conclude that it was not a rare fashion. Somewhat more common were sailr tunics with elaborate lace and ruffle trim.
The lace collar is not normally considered to be part of a sailor suit. Some mothers in the 19th cebntury, while liking the sailor style, considerd it to plain. Sailor suits for the most part were relatively plain outfits for boys. For that reason they tended to be much more popular with boys than fancy Fauntleroy suits. While they were popular with mothers, some just did not think that a standard sailor suit was suitable without some additional trim. Other mothers believe that a great deal of additional trim was needed. Some sailor suits were actually made with lace trim. More commonly mothers simply pinned a lace collar onto whatvever suit a boy wore, sailor suits as well as other suits. Many mothers probably would have preferred a velvet Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, but perhaps the father objected. Perhaps Fauntleroy suits were to expesice, perhaps the boy was judged to old for such a suit--the possible reasons or manifold. As a result, mothers occassionally added a lace collar to a standard sailor suit. Such an arrangement had a number of advantages for a frugal 19th century mother. Many a boy might find that an adoring mother might add a lace collar to his sensible sailor suit when he needed an outfit for a special occasion. The lace collar could be easily pinned on or taken off. Thus a basic sailor suit could be worn for every day without the lace collar which was rather expesive and an active boy could spoil if worn for school or play. But it could be easily pinned on to make the plain sailor suit more sitable for a formal occasion. Also such suits could be worn for several years. As the boy got older and it was determind that a lace collar was no longer appropriate for him, a new suit did not need to be purchased. The mother could simply remove the collar and use it for a younger brother. Sailior suits with lace collars were not an enormously popular style, however, enough images exist to conclude that it was not a rare fashion.
This style was worn to some extent by younger boys in America, but it was particularly popular in France. Most boys wore plain sailor suits. The great popularity of the sailor suit, however, mean that very large numbers of boys wore them. Few boys from the 1880s to the 1920s grew up without wearing a sailor suit. As a result, there are quite a number of images showing boys wearing saiolor suits with lace trim.
The sailor tunic came in a wide variety of styles. Some were very plain with virtually no
styling except for the required belt. Others were quite elaborate styles with lace and ruffles. These may appear to have been made for girls, but in fact they were boys' formal garments. A girls' formal garment would have been more likely to have been a party frock. Some sailor tunics had the characteristic front "v" cut sailor collar while others had a square front collar. All had characteristic back flaps. Some of the black flaps were plain like a middy blouse, other fancy tunic suits may have lace trimmed or even large lace back flaps.
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