Nautical styles having more or less vanished in the mid 1940s, they returned with a bang in the early 50s. The 1950s delighted in whimsy, and the sailor dress fit well with this love of novelty and themes - its popularity remained consistent throughout the decade.
Simplicity 4876, 1954
Simplicity 4974, 1954
In a departure from the traditional naval colours rare since the 1930s, the sailor dress also made occasional forays into other palettes. The Dress E below was available in blue, brown and grey, and dress F in blue and grey.
Simplicity 1037, 1955
McCall's 4142, 1957
Simplicity 2260, 1957
Simplicity 2331, 1957
Sailor style was big news in 1958, attributable to the hugely successful film "South Pacific". The Sears & Roebuck catalogue for Spring/Summer that year featured heavily on nautical fashions, even selecting it for special attention as a 'fashion story' at the front of the catalogue.
Nor were the pattern companies idle, making a host of sailor styles available to the home seamstress.
Butterick 8595, 1958
McCall's 4499, 1958
As the fashion silhouette starts to move towards the boxier 60s styles you can see the original Middy blouse re-emerge in its traditional, loose-fitting form, not seen since the 1920s.
Butterick 8477, 1959
Printed fabric for an "easy to make" instant middy blouse, Sears, 1959
And so we move into the 1960s. The styles of the late 50s carry over into the early 60s "Mad Men" era. Later on in the decade Mod fashion adopts Middy style dropwaist dresses, often with pleated skirts, again echoing the 1920s versions.
A quick chicken and egg question for you: Did sailor style bring bell-bottoms to 70s fashion, or did 70s bell-bottoms invite a nautical theme? Either way, 1972 seems to have been a big year for nautical style, with several new patterns appearing on the market that year.
Although I planned to include the 1970s purely in the interests of completeness, I have to admit to finding myself drawn to the playful, fit-and-flare A-line minidresses.
Which brings our history of nautical fashions to a close (yes, there were nautical dresses in the 80s, but let's face it, which of you are really interested?). But wait, there's more! Yes, our unofficial nautical week continues tomorrow, so do tune in!