What is a Sailor Hat?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A sailor hat is a head accessory worn by sailors in the many navies around the world. It has a low-rolled brim with a high-domed top. The sailor hat is made of wedge-shaped canvas or cotton fabric. The hat usually comes with a tally and a streamer. Other embellishments can also be added, such as a badge or a cockade.

The tally is an important part of a sailor hat. It is a black ribbon with gold or yellow inscription worn by enlisted sailors. The inscriptions bear the name of the unit or the navy to which the wearer belongs. This marking is often found on the front side of the cap. The tally’s end is tied into a bow and is commonly worn above the left ear.

Streamers bear the name of the ship the sailor is presently sailing on. These streamers are often black, satin ribbons found on the back side of a sailor hat. It is usually two ribbon strands of varied length and forked ends. Some streamers are worn on the side of the hat.

In 1811, the sailor hat was first introduced. The Russian Navy was the primary one to use this style, making an improvement from the peaked style caps. Peaked style caps are close fitting to the head with a pointed top. The new style of sailor hat was fashioned in relevance to the marine environment.

These sailors' hats became a common part of the naval uniform in the 1870s. Rather than wearing large-brimmed hats, navies chose to wear the new mode of sailor hat, which was far more comfortable. As these hats have no brims, they seem more practical to wear because they are easy to keep on in the midst of heavy winds. Styles of the hat varied over time from country to country. In the mid-19th century, this style of hat became a trend for most of the world’s navies.

Wearing a sailor hat became a fashion for young boys in the 20th century. This goes along with the wearing of a complete sailor suit, popularized by Queen Victoria’s sons in the 1840s. The trend went on by modifying the hat into wearable pieces for young boys. Wearing sailor suits and hats became a fashion and was a hit in both Europe and America, although their style of wearing it developed differently. This is because the sailor suit trends go along with the styles worn by the national navies, which are different in each country.

A sailor hat became a part of a boy’s formal and mid-day suit. Boys usually place these hats fully on their heads. Sometimes they place the hats at a slightly angled spot or positioned to one side only. These hats, along with the sailor suits, continue to be worn by boys for formal occasions and costume parties.

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