The Great British Sailor Suit

Sailor Suits on Great British Sewing Bee

Saior suits from Chas. Baker & Co., 1897

Sailor suits for little boys were the first democratic fashion – easy to make and easy to wear, with no stiff collars or fussy fastenings. They were mass-produced in British factories from 1870 onwards, and became the default outfit for boys starting school. There were  washable cotton versions for seaside holidays – and fancy velvet ones with lace trim for party wear. Clothing manufacturers loved the fact that there was a constant demand for them – and issued new versions every year with slightly different trim. Mothers loved the fact that the baggy tops gave room for growth, and could be worn over layers in winter. Small boys dreamed of having a version with a cap and a whistle like a real sailor – while older boys saw sailor suits as childish, suited only for Infants School.

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