The Iconic Sailor Pants
Sported through time by divas and trendsetters of the likes of Dietrich, Garbo and Birkin, sailor pants are back in style yet again - or rather they never went out of it.
Referred to as “the rig” by the British Royal Navy seamen who originally wore them, sailor pants are rooted in the history of work wear.
Their first appearance in popular fashion presumably dates back to a very specific episode: in 1846, a then 5-year-old Edward VII (AKA ‘Bertie’), the eldest son of Queen Victoria, was depicted in a portrait by Winterhaller wearing a classic sailor’s uniform.
It was there and then, in the Edwardian society, that dressing children in sailor inspired clothing became popular.
With the adoption of pants as a common item of dress for women in Western society, sailor pants went on to make their debut in women’s fashion: in the 1920s, Coco Chanel popularised her own take on the sailor pants, the beach pyjamas (A.K.A. yatch pants): relaxed and yet elegant flowy, wide-legged pants to be worn on yatch rides or to fancy beach resorts.
In the 1930s, high-waisted sailor pants became all the rage in women’s fashion, with a little help from the film industry, as stars and divas of the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn all started to sport this and more trouser styles borrowed from the masculine wardrobe.
By the end of the 1960s, yet another major fashion icon, the unrivalled Jane Birkin, brought the sailor pant aesthetics back to style, in the form of high-rise, wide-legged jeans paired with a white & blue striped tee basically the epitome of the French girl-style.
Ever since then, sailor pants have been in and out of style, but basically they never disappeared, thus qualifying as a true classic. Their basic design traits are unchanged and unmistakable: high rise, wide or bell-bottom legs, buttons on the front flap (or a buttoned broadfall front) .
Their fabrics of choice range from firm, sturdy (or even flowy) cotton to denim and wool.