EJ's White Gloves


mike disch

Actual footage of EJ on Titanic sailing day shows him in white uniform w/white gloves. Cameron film shows him in blue w/white gloves, which I suspect is a director's film choice. My guess is white gloves go with white (dinner, formal ceremonies), while the blue uniform is work attire--no gloves, no medals. Any confirmation?

I'm not certain but feel pretty sure that the newsreel footage you're referring to was actually taken on the Olympic, probably on her arrival in New York after completing her maiden voyage in 1911. If I recall that was a late summer crossing and so the season might well have had to do with Capt. Smith's wearing a white suit rather than blue.

The photo of him with Purser McElroy was taken on Titanic's sailing day and they are both in the dark uniform.

Hopefully one of our nautical experts will be more adept at answering the question of whether the white uniform was actually considered "formal" and the blue "informal."

Hi, Randy!

The "IMM Ship's Rules and Uniform Regulations" specifies that the blue (cold weather) uniform was the full dress uniform, while whites (used only "in services where hot weather is prevalent") were regarded as the undress uniform.

All my best,

"Hopefully one of our nautical experts will be more adept at answering the question of whether the white uniform was actually onsidered "formal" and the blue "informal."

If I may pretentiously join the 'nautical experts' just this once....

I am not familiar with the footage you refer to but I would surmise it depicts Captain Smith wearing No.10's - formal tropical day dress (there later developed the less formal shirt, shorts and white knee socks day dress but this was not universal in passenger vessels, for instance the catering officers would keep to No.10's). The designation 'No.10' is a spillover from the Royal Navy dress code.

Depending upon either zone or prevailing weather the prescribed dress code handed down from the bridge was either 'whites' or 'blues'.

'Whites' on the UK coast in April would be unthinkable. Uniform gloves with 'blues' would be black leather. While the north Atlantic is never a tropical run, New York in high summer with its attendant high humidity would almost certainly warrant 'whites'.

Evening mess dress mirrored the prevailing day dress except that 'blue' mess jackets in later decades became almost universally superseded by 'white'. Either way, mess jackets were worn with bow ties, cummerbunds and barathea trousers with 'lighting conductor' stripes.

Hi, Tuna!

On those occasions when gloves *were* worn, they were "to be plain brown buckskin or dogskin."

All my best,

(P.S. The article we spoke about the other night is on its way to you.)