Sailor Hats

Sailor Hats

Sailor hats were originally worn exclusively by boys. Girls began wearing sailot hats during the early Victorian era. By the 1880s they were commonly worn by both boys and girls.

The initial sailor hat worn by boys were wide-brimmed with ribbons dangling down the back and often held on with elastic under the chin. The hats were baced on straw hats, with smaller brims once worn by sailors, The size of the brims varried greatly. Often some of the smaller boys in sailor suits or Fautleroy suits might have very large hats with the long dangling ribbons. One fashion columist in Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine wrote in 1861, A sailor hat in brown straw, trimmed with black ribbon with bow ends is suitable for little boys 6 to 7 years of age. Older boys would have hats with smaller brims.

Boys also wore hats worn by sailors in their country's navies. As these uniforms changed so did the boys' styles. British and American bots wore a kind of flat topped sailor hat. German and Russian boys wore hats with a softer top. French boys had a little red pom on the top of their caps. These styles were also adopted by the Sea Scouts, a unit of the Boy Scouts in the various countries.

Older boys by the later part of the 19th Century and early 20th Century were also wearing small-brim straw hats with knee pants tweed suits. Sailor suits continued to be worn by boys in the 1920s and 30s, but the accompanying hat passed out of favor, especially after the 1920s. Sailor hats are still sometimes seen as part of Sea Scout uniforms. They are still sometimes worn by small boys serving as ring bearers at formal weddings. Sailor suits, including the caps, were adopted as the uniform of some boys choirs, especially in Germany. They are still used by the Vienna Chour Boys.

Popular first with children, the straw hat became a favorite with adults after the turn of the Century. Many fashion trends were first tried on children before adults wore them.

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Additional Information

  • Historical references

Christopher Wagner

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