Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clara's Sailor Dress

This is Clara's cute sailor dress from the 1910s. It has pleats in the front, and no waistline. Beginning in the 1890s, fashion designers adapted boys’ Sailor Suits into dresses. Sailor style dresses remained popular for most of the Twentieth Century and up through the present day as well, although they were most popular around the 1910s. Most of the sailor suits were navy blue with white trim. Some of the dresses had gold braid as well.

The original dress on which Clara's outfit is based was navy blue with a wide, white collar, blue ribbon trim, a white scarf, and brass buttons.

Her button-up boots were quite fashionable at this time. These would most likely be two colors, with a white upper portion, and a shiny patent leather bottom section. These are good, sturdy boots for work and play, with thick leather soles to protect Clara's feet.

She also has a floppy hat known as a tam-o'-shanter or tam. Her hat has a big pom-pom on the top, and is worn tipped a little to the side. Clara's tam-o'-shanter was based on several vintage hats, all of which were various plaids. However, she would have worn a white or navy blue hat that matched her outfit. There are many archived photos of little girls in sailor suits with matching white tams.

The tam-o'-shanter is of Scottish origin, and was originally made of plaid wool. This style of hat was worn by many military units, notably sailors, making it a popular addition to a sailor dress ensemble. This particular hat became very popular beginning in the 1880s, and remained in style for a great length of time.

The hat was named after a character in a Robert Burns poem from 1790. Here is an excerpt from the poem:

This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonie lasses.
If you would like to read more of the poem, you can find the entire poem in the original Scots dialect, along with an English translation here. I guess what I am trying to demonstrate by including the poem is how the pop culture of the time influenced fashion. Robert Burns was part of the pop culture of the 1880s – some milliner (hat designer) liked Burns, and named a hat after a poetic character. Burns thus contributed a name to fashion design, albeit posthumously. Today, clothing designers name outfits or entire clothing lines after famous people, or use names that conjure up images of the latest fad. The culture of each era influences the fashion, sometimes in interesting ways.

Have fun as you color the dress, hat, and boots. You don't have to stick to the original navy blue, white, and gold. Here are some shades that were used in clothing from the early 1910s:

To print Clara's dress, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 6 (570k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will be available on this blog as long as I continue to post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (718k)

If you like my paper dolls enough to want to share with others, please email or post a link to my blog rather than sending or posting a copy of the paper dolls. Refer your friends so they can enjoy the free, printable paper dolls on my blog. Please do not post my artwork on your own sites, modify any of the files, or distribute them to others.

1 comment:

  1. AWESOME, Mindy! Stunning! Unbelievable!

    The historicity and the skill of your drawings is superb. Don't you think you should send these designs the Smithsonian magazine, or try the nostalgia market like Reminisce and Country magazines, etc.?

    I'm swamped with finals. But I'll put on my thinking cap for marketing this, for whatever my input is worth. BTW, here is a link to my digital portfolio of the mural project James and I did:

    Now that Summer is approaching, let's connect for some watercolor lessons with the kids if you like. OK?

    Aunt Cindi