Figure 1.--The classic sailor suit had three stripes. The three stripes were also widely used in variations of sailor suits.
The detailing on the classic sailor suit was always three stripes on the collar and back flap which were sometimes repeated on the cuffs. Nautical motiffs might appear at the front "v" on the dickey or shirt worn under the middy blouse and sometimes in the corners of the back flap. Other than these details, the sailor suit was quite plain. While this was the classic style, many variations appeared. Some of the more elaborate variations were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The detailing on the classic sailor suit was always three stripes on the collarm and back flap which were sometimes repeated on the cuffs. The collar and back flap might be a slightly different shade than the suit itself. Nautical motiffs might appear at the front "v" on the dickey or shirt worn under the middy blouse and sometimes in the corners of the back flap. HBC is not precisely sure just on what type of garment these nautical motiffs were worn. Some boys did not have them, but thdey were very common in 1880 and 1889. They seemed to have been worn on a dickey. Other boys seem to have worn pain shirts underneath with a "T" shirt like collar. Sometimes thesecshirts were palin with perhaps a single bandof color around the neck. In other instances the shirts were stripped. These stripped shirts were particularly common in France and Russia. A black scarfe and brass whistle were common additiions to the classic suit--the whistle being more popular with the boy than the mother. Other than these details, the sailor suit was quite plain.
Many variations appeared to the classic sailor suit detailing. Some otherwise clasically style suits had no stripes at all and are dine with a very plain look. Stripes were of course the most common type of detailing. For a time it was considered quite stylish to have the sailor collar without stripes but an otherwise classically styled suit. This might be done as solid color suits or sometimes contrasting solid white collars were done on colored suits or solid colored collars on white suits. Themost commob color was of course various shafes of blue. Sailor suits were of course done in many other colors as well. These plain suits often have a rather elegant look. We have noted these plain suits in America as well as several other countries. Not all plain looking suits are really plain. Sometimes the stripes on blue suits were done in different shade of blue or in black rather than white and are hard to detect in the old photographs. They look suits done with plasin collars unless you look very carefully.
Figure 1.--Otherwise classically styled ailor suits might have more than had three stripes, but suits with only two stripes were unusual. The multiple stipes do not seem to have any significance--only stylistic variations. Notice the poorly fitting dickey.
Some of the more elaborate variations were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sometimes there were only modest variations of the classic styling, other times there were elaborate addituions, the most common being the addition of copious ammounts of lace and ruffle trim--giving them almost the appearance of a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. We also notice sailor collars done with patterns rather than stripes. This was very raste, but we do notice it in Europe. A good example is a 1896 portrait by H. Cürn. Also the suits were done in a variety of colors instead of the standard blue and white. this elaborate trim proved more common on sailor tunics than the actual suits, but some suits were modified as well.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main sailor suit page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web sailor pages:
[Middy blouse] [Reefer jackets] [Sailor dresses] [Other sailor styles] [Sailor hats]
[Middy suits] [National sailor suits] [The Royals] [Ring bearer/page costumes]