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Boating suit

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1890-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cream wool with blue pinstripe, hand- and machine-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr C. W. Cunnington

  • Museum number:

    T.113 to B-1934

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 3 []

Object Type
Light-coloured suits such as this became popular from the 1890s. Matching coats, trousers and waistcoats, known as 'dittos', in pin-striped flannel were accepted dress for summer sports and holidays. The outfit was often completed with a straw boater.

Design & Designing
Striped jackets were originally worn for cricket, tennis and rowing and became fashionable for seaside wear during the 1880s. The infiltration of sporting dress into informal styles of clothing shows how social conventions were relaxing in the late 19th century.

Ownership & Use
Conventions in dress applied to informal as well as more formal wear. It was important to be dressed appropriately for the occasion. One gentlemen's etiquette book, Manners for Men, by Mrs Humphry ('Madge of Truth'), published in 1897, writes that:

'There are special suits for all kinds of outdoor amusements, such as shooting, golfing, tennis, boating, driving, riding, bicycling, fishing, hunting, &c., but into the details of these it is unnecessary to enter. It may be remarked, however, that it is easy to stultify the whole effect of these, however perfectly they may be built 'by the tailor' by the addition of a single incongruous article of attire; such as a silk hat or patent boots with a shooting-suit.'

Physical description

Man's three-piece boating suit

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1890-1900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cream wool with blue pinstripe, hand- and machine-sewn

Object history note

Made in Britain

Descriptive line

Boating suit, hand- and machine-sewn cream wool with blue pinstripe, Great Britain, 1890-1900

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This suit was ideal for rowing because the trousers have a padded seat. The light colour and loose cut gave a relaxed, summery look. This style became so popular that the Gentleman's Magazine of 1884 remarked: 'Every man with a grain of respectability, on the river puts on white trousers, with white flannel shirt, straw hat, striped flannel coat'. [27/03/2003]






Clothing; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project; Men's clothes; Sport


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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