The sailor suit is an example of people emulating a fashion first worn by members of the Royal Family.

In the 19th century, The Royal Family may have wanted to instil a sense of patriotism and national pride in their country by dressing the young Prince Edward VII (1840-1910), the eldest son of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in a version of Great Britain’s Royal Navy uniform. In 1846 the Prince had his portrait painted while wearing the sailor suit and once the portrait was reproduced in the popular press, mothers of all walks of life hurried to dress their little boys like the Prince, making the sailor suit a very popular fashion for boys in the 19th century.

The sailor suit was intended as casual wear, but it is still made up of many different parts. An adult would have needed to help the boy dress, buttoning on the collar and cuffs, and fastening the top to the pants.
McCord Museum of Canadian History

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

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