Tag Archives: nautical

Mid 1960s Nautical Ensemble

It’s no secret that I love a nautical look, and I especially love a vintage nautical outfit.  The shirt and pants above are from the mid 1960s, and though they were not made together, the original wearer paired them for what I think is a perfect 1966 ensemble.

It’s certain that she could have not worn these to school because in North Carolina school dress codes did not generally allow the wearing of pants by girls until the early 1970s.  Instead, this was a fun time outfit, for a casual date or a picnic or just hanging out with friends.

The top is made of cotton poplin, white with blue sailboats and red directional abbreviations.  It has a band collar, a feature that was popular during the mid and late 1960s.

The shirt’s label is Shirt Tree, Designed by Lynn Stuart.  Lynn Stuart is little remembered today, but during the 1960s and 70s she was quite busy, designing and manufacturing both the Shirt Tree and Mister Pants labels.  Some of her designs can be found in McCall Patterns’ New York Designers series.  Present day designer Jill Stuart is her daughter.

I love the inverted pleat on the back.  It gives mobility without looking like a man’s shirt.

The pants were made to look like classic sailor’s pants with a double-button opening and drop front.  I somehow can’t see guys (other than sailors, of course)  going for this style, but it is possible these pants were made for young men.

McGregor primarily made sportswear for men, but for a very brief period, 1963 through 1968, they did have a line for women.  All the labels I’ve seen for that line read “Her McGregor”, but that really does not prove the point either way. Truth is, in the mid 1960s and into the 70s girls were appropriating their brothers and boyfriends clothing like mad.  Chances are the original wearer either stole them from her brother’s closet, or was shopping in the young men’s department.

It’s hard to tell from my photos, but the legs are very slightly belled.  Bell-bottoms were not quite the must-have pants that they would be just a few years later, but they were already being worn by the fashionable set.  Lynn at AmericanAgeFashion posted a great page showing the pants of 1964, and in it bell-bottoms were classified as a novelty look.

Nautical, right down to the anchor buttons!


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Novelty Textiles: Nautical

It would be hard to tell the story of American sportswear without using the term nautical.  Some of the very first sportswear garments for women borrowed heavily from the traditional sailor’s uniform.  In the 1800s when more and more women took to sea bathing, their bathing suits often had a sailor collar and middy braid.  Gymnasium attire followed suit, with the middy blouse, modeled after a midshipman’s shirt, becoming the favored top for girls and women’s sports attire.

Through the years a nautical theme has been favored in prints for sports clothing, especially for that made to be worn for a seaside vacation.  I’m always happy to run across novelty print fabric that has a nautical motif.

My latest is this cotton duck from the 1950s or early 60s.  I love the turquoise and yellow colors, but I especially love that Sailmakers font.

Though nautical prints are generally in a red, white, and blue colorway, this print shows that there is no need to be stuck in that design rut.

I found this print several years ago, and it remains a favorite.  There is something especially crisp about blue and green on white.

How about some green and lavender gulls?

In a more traditional vein is this terry cloth.  I’ve got plans to make this into a beach robe.

And finally, not fabric yardage, but a super nautical hankie that has all the bells and whistles.


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Textiles

1930s Sailor Inspired Pants

It was during the 1930s that women became serious about wearing slacks.  Many had already taken to wearing knickers during the Twenties, and by the end of that decade the pyjama pant had become a popular beach option.  In the Thirties pants moved from the beach and into other casual venues.

This delightful pair was one of my flea market finds.  They aren’t perfect, but for an eighty-year-old garment that received rough wear, they aren’t bad.  I love the double button flap in the front, but check out this great detail in the back:

Just like a real pair of sailor pants, this pair has laces at the waist.  The stitching holds in place a sort of modesty panel.  We couldn’t be allowing a peek of our panties!

The label is great as well, with a horse and equestrienne theme. Marshall Field was the great Chicago department store, having been founded in 1881.

A second label gives a bit more information about the fabric.  It is “sanforized,” a process that helped keep cotton fabrics from shrinking.  It was developed and patented in 1930 by Sanford Cluett, one of the owners of Arrow shirts.  A sanforized tag can be useful in dating a garment, as one having that label cannot predate 1930.

Here’s a close-up of the front flap opening.  The buttons are the originals.  How about that little pocket?

Another nice detail that does not show in my other photos is the white piping down the side seam.

And I love that piping is also on the trim of the little pocket.

In the 1930s, the nautical look was hot, but it was not new.  Seaside outfits that took inspiration from the sailor’s suit dated back to Victorian times, and the inspiration continued through the Edwardian era and the 1920s  in exercise and swimwear.

This 1930s woman did not need to be on the shore in order to enjoy her nautical ensemble.



Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

White and Navy, The Middy Up-dated

It’s not often that I comment on what a celebrity is wearing, just because I feel that why bother when Tom and Lorenzo are in the world.  But I just have to say a few words about this fabulous dress that Duchess Catherine wore in Canada yesterday.

The fashion press lost no time in calling forth the vintage inspiration, saying it was 1920s inspired.  Well, yes, but to me it speaks more of the 1970s, when designers like Sonia Rykiel and Jean Muir took looks from the 20s and 30s and transformed them by making them in knits.  But no matter, because whatever the era it evokes, I cannot resist a dress that so beautifully transforms a sportswear staple from the 1910s and 20s, the middy.

The middy dress, or sailor dress has come and gone over the years.  They were big during World War II as a way to show one’s patriotism.  They were also popular in the mid 60s.  I can remember that I had one that was culottes that I wore in junior high, around 1968.  And then they had another big moment in the 1980s, when Laura Ashley began making a version in navy.

What is interesting is that it was first reported that Catherine’s dress was Sarah Burton for McQueen, but some people who pay close attention to what celebrities wear remembered seeing this one in 2006, being worn by Sarah Jessica Parker.  So the dress is actually by Alexander McQueen.  I wonder if they remade the dress for Catherine, or if it has been carefully folded up (never hang a knit dress!) on a shelf for the past five years.

There are several websites where one can go and vote for who wore it the best, but I think the dress suits them both.  It was surprising to see the dress on Parker, as when I saw the original dress my thoughts were, “Only on a tall woman.”  But Parker’s version is navy, which made it much more wearable for a shorter woman.  Trust me, I’m short and I’d have tried on both colors, loved the white and chosen the navy.

Photo of Duchess Catherine via dailymail.co.uk

Photo of Sarah Jessica Parker, Getty Photos, via Huffington Post


Filed under Designers, Viewpoint