Casual trousers in 1912 Did blue jeans exist at the time


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Jan 7, 2002
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What was the 'casual trouserware' in 1912? Did denim/bluejeans exist at the time?

Zippers were invented in 1911, so I suspect many men on the Titanic had zippers on their trousers..but did any of them have bluejeans?
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Although denim jeans were associated with miners, I have often wondered if the popularity of hard-wearing blue trousers had anything to do with the fact that similar garments formed part of the uniform of United States soldiers until the end of the 19th Century. Looking at American Civil War films, the actors often seem to be wearing modern jeans - or do the film makers hope that nobody notices?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I think you'll find it has a lot more to do with denim being pretty damned rugged then anything else. Soldiers and miners alike typically work in some very harsh conditions and it's nice to have something to wear which is rugged, comfortable, and reasonably inexpensive.

As to film makers, I'm betting that they hope nobody notices any inaccuracies, and for the most part, it's a very safe bet. Role players, re-enactors, and historians would notice something amiss, but they've done the homework.
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Interesting that the denem bell bottoms sailors used to wear became the fashion with civilians in the 1960s & 70s.....

When did the bell bottoms make their first appearance?
 
Jan 2, 1997
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To echo Mr Standart, let's hear it for google, which says the first bell bottoms were mentioned in 1813.

Unless you mean as a fashion item, in which case I can recall begging for a pair of bell bottoms in 1973. They were so wide I had to take about three steps before the trousers would actually move. Being a small person, I lived in dread of a light breeze. I had visions of being wafted away, never to be seen again!
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Wasn't the bulk of Charlotte Cardeza's fortune derived from her father who had manufactured jeans or some other kind of denim garment?

Our whole idea of what constitutes 'casual wear' has changed completely since 1912. What an Edwardian would have described as 'loose' or 'informal' would seem incredibly constrictive and uncomfortable to us now.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Jeans certainly have their origin in working dress aboard ships. Back in the 16th century, British sailors in India were cutting and stitching their own trousers from a locally-made heavy cotton cloth died indigo blue. This was sold in the port of Dongari. When I was a kid, jeans in England were still called dungarees.

In Italy, the Genoese navy later provided something very similar for its own sailors. These were died Genoese blue, but in use (especially after washing in sea water) they were soon bleached white. Fabric of this type was a popular export from Nimes in France ('de Nime') to the US. In the established style, this was generally died Genoese blue (bleu de Genes). That should explain most of the names!

Bell bottoms seem to have originated in the US Navy in the early years of the 19th century. There seems to be no clear favourite among the various speculations to explain the design, but I imagine it was because it made the trousers easier to roll up when swabbing the decks etc.

Seamen on the Titanic would have been wearing trousers which had a lot in common with modern dungarees or jeans, but you can be fairly sure that nobody was wearing a zip fastener. The invention didn't become commercially viable until a few years later.
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May 1, 2004
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I wore bell-bottoms in the early '70's, when I had less flesh than I have now. We used to sew decorative patches and embroider them. Flowers, symbols, butterflies, hearts. A colour riot. If only some of our efforts had been donated to a textile museum. There were marvelous works of youth-art.

I wish bell-bottoms were back in style. They were so easy to roll up. So unconfining.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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At the risk of being pedantic, I have always thought that the wide-bottomed trousers popular among the hippy set were "flares" rather than bell bottoms. Flares were triangular when viewed from the side and could be made by inserting a triangular piece of cloth into the seams of ordinary trousers. True bell bottoms might be described as "half-conical" in shape, insofar as they flared outwards in a full 360 degree circle.
 
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sashka pozzetti

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We probably have different ideas of what flares are. When I wore them, they were bell bottoms if they flared out gradually from the hip, getting increasingly wider all the way down, like sailor pants. Flares either flared out from the knee, or had insets of fabric , as mentioned above. They used to flap around and get caught in things Modern flares are better because the fabrics are more appropriate.
 
May 3, 2005
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>>When did the bell bottoms make their first appearance?<<

When did the bell bottoms become "non-reg" in the U.S. Navy or were they ever a "regulation" part of the official U.S. Navy uniform ?
 
May 3, 2005
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>>jeans in England were still called dungarees.<<

Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I seem to remember the Navy issue work clothes for enlisted men (from SR to PO1) type of trousers were refer to as "dungaree" ?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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The dungraree uniform went out only a few years ago, shortly after I retired. I'm not sure exactly when, but new working uniforms were already under trials when I finally hung my own up for the last time. I'm not sure that what's out there now is really that much of an improvement but at least nobody has a heart attack over being seen out of the mainspaces in coveralls.
 
Jan 2, 1997
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In all this talk of feathered glory, we've over looked that other staple of the dinner party lady, the Ostrich Feather Fan. I recently saw one in an exhibition, dating from 1910. It had a massive plume of feathers, and right in the centre, a real dead, stuffed and mounted humming bird. Three things occurred to me. One, what on earth did they do with it when it wasn't in use? Even folded it must have taken up an incredible amount of space. Two, you'd have to be pretty strong to life it. The metal work to secure the humming bird alone looked like the underside of the Forth Rail Bridge. And thirdly....yuk.... I'm fairly sure the sight of that beady-eyed little birdy staring back at me from the table would have taken my appetite away!

Are there any references to fans?
 

John Clifford

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Hi Vitezlaz.
"Bell Bottom" was a style of pants popular in the 1970s; the idea that, like the shape of a bell, the pants legs opened up or were wider at the bottom.
I don't remember owning any of these jeans, but then I was 7 when that decade began. It was an "unusual period", to say the least: Ron Howard, on "Happy Days", had hair, John Travolta, on "Welcome Back Kotter", was thin, and it's now comical to think of the fashion fads popular in the Disco Era. I still remember when my father used to purchase the "Leisure Suit" (plaid and madras styles gone bad).

Of course this is in comparison to styles around 1912, when most people always dressed quite conservatively. My mom showed me pictures of school life in the 1930s, when it was accepted that boys wore dress shirts and ties when attending classes.
Nowadays we are more casual.
Example: in the Victorian and Edwardian Days young boys saw it as a passage to manhood to wear long pants. Now a lot of men, myself included, wear short pants whenever they can, especially in warmer climates (I've observed many men working for Fed-Ex and UPS wear their employer-issued shorts every day).

Levi Strauss has been around many years, and has adapted to changing styles. I will wager that most people did not wear jeans around 1912, whereas they now do, either as pants or shorts, today.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Bell bottom trousers were around long before the 1970s, as they were the normal dress of naval seamen. The bottoms on these were very wide.

I've seen two explanations for the design.

One version is that the wide bottoms over-lapped the wearer's shoes, allowing stray water to run down the trouser legs without filling the shoes.

Another version says that if the sailor fell overboard, he could easily kick his shoes off to help him keep afloat.

An old song goes---

Bell bottom trousers,
Coat of navy blue,
She loves a sailor
And he loves her too.

If you know it, you're getting old!
 
Sep 1, 2004
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Oh, yes, now I know what it is. I remember wearing one when I was 7 years old or so, I inherited the bell bottom from my mother :)
 

Tracy Smith

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Not only did we wear bell bottoms as teens in the 70s, lots of people also wore navy pea coats. I still have one, but I don't wear it much, as it doesn't often get cold enough around here to do so.
 
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