Both civilians and sailors will have the option of wearing the classic sailor suit this spring. Designers in Paris and New York have spun off the familiar suit for slimmed-down, spanking white styles, often with a splash of blue or navy as a favorite upcoming theme.
The U.S. Navy began to phase out the middy top, 13-button bell bottoms and white dixie-cup hat in July 1973. Within two years, it was replaced by a coat and tie or shirt-and-trouser garb.
But as a result of a wear test by 20,000 fleet personnel who rated the jumper, as it is called, for laundering and ship storage convenience, the navy blue suit is now an option for all seamen, recruits, apprentices and petty officers, third class. (No decision yet on the white suit.)
Nothing comes back in fashion quite the way it was done before -- even in the military -- and the Navy has revived the sailor suit so that the original versions can't be worn again. The old styles were blue melton; the new are 15-ounce blue serge.
Among the designer variations on the sailor look for spring: Albert Nipon's navy piped and belted middy blouse and skirt; Richard Assatly's middy blouse with long red chiffon scarf and pleated skirt with deep slit; Yves Saint Laurent's sailor-inspired sportswear for men and women; Kasper's sailor top and skinny skirt with white piping and Bern Conrad's navy braid-trimmed sailor suit with above-ankle pants.