Publish date:

Look, Ma! Sailor Suits!


When America's five million boat-owning families put out on lake, river and sea this summer, their estimated 10 million children will have a better chance than ever before of looking as shipshape as their craft. There may be no real correlation between the boom in babies and the boom in boats, but the children's wear segment of the garment industry has geared itself for both, with a record number of firms turning out clothing well-designed for action on board. While nautical themes have been familiar in children's clothing since 1850 when the first child's sailor suit appeared in Victorian England and the Queen herself adopted it for the royal children, today's trend is to practicality as well as detail.

This year's boating clothes are made of water-repellent poplins or sailcloth itself and stitched with the sailmaker's stitch. Authentic signal flag prints, new in the children's field, make up into instructive miniature shorts and shirt. The toggle jacket, now so popular with grownups, is available this summer in several versions for children. To show just how the new boating clothes fit the activities of the upcoming generation of crew and captain, SI went to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club south of Los Angeles and photographed the boating small fry there. The clothes the children liked best themselves are those with authentic detail that look "in place" in the spic and span world of the sea. Here the youngsters not only know how to comport themselves as passengers, but are also real crew members with their own duties on the family pleasure craft.

Sailor-Laced shirts ($2.50), elastic-waistband shorts ($2.95), clam diggers ($3.95, all Sacony) in red, white and blue are worn by Susan Crary (left) and Heidi Marsellus.

Water-Repellent poplin jacket (Tidykins, $4.98) worn by Holt Bundy is warmly lined, has matching poplin slacks ($2.98).

Single-Flag printed short shorts and shirt (Catalina, $2.50 and $1.98) are worn for dock duties by 6½-year-old Gail Crary.

Blueberry-Color poplin jacket, shorts (White Stag, $4.98 and $3.98) worn by Shelley Binford are good for hot days.

Traditional sailcloth in cabin-boy jacket and shorts (White Stag, $4.50 and $3.98), worn here by 10-year-old Shelley, and cotton shirt in traditional red- and-white stripes (Carltona, $2.50) worn by 3-year-old Holt Bundy are fit and proper for sailing.

Candy-Color clothes (Glen of Michigan) are worn by crew of the Dirty Bird: Susan Crary, 9, in striped shirt and shorts (each $2.98), Shelley in sailor jacket ($5.98) and Bermudas ($3.98) and Nancy Hill, 4, in small size jacket ($4.98), shorts ($2.98).