Collection Online

Sailor suit
(c. 1903)

cotton, plastic (buttons)
(a) 38.0 cm (centre back) 16.0 cm (sleeve length) (top)
(b) 33.0 cm (outer leg) 43.0 cm (waist, flat) (trousers)
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Schofield Collection. Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the Government of Victoria, 1974
Gallery location
Not on display
Physical description
Little boy’s sailor suit, navy cotton, cuffs of blue and white stripes. (a) Blue cotton blouse with slight gathers at bottom edge, button fastening centre front. Raised round neck. Blue and white striped attached bands at sleeves and squared ‘sailor’ collar attached centre back of striped fabric extending into silk ribbon ties. Machine and hand-stitching. Five mother-of-pearl buttons and hook and eye at bottom edge. (b) Blue cotton trousers with wide waistband gathered by cream cotton tape. Striped lower leg bands attached and gathered lower legs.

Most children’s clothes in the Victorian era mirrored the fashionable styles worn by their parents. The sailor suit, however, came into fashion as a more informal and practical style for children in the late 1840s after Queen Victoria dressed her young son in a ‘pretend’ uniform while on board the Royal Yacht. By the 1880s the nautical look was firmly established as a craze, affirmed by royal tastes, and adopted by both genders and across classes.