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  • Writer's pictureDavid Connolly

Wartime Blues Part I – Denim Uniforms of the U.S. Navy

When we think of military garb, our minds understandably cast upon images of olive drab classics like the M-65, OG107 uniform, and all that good stuff. But throughout the early to mid-20th century, the U.S. military adopted denim as a workwear fabric, applying it to a range of uniforms across its forces.

In this two-part series, we’ll be focussing on how the U.S. military used denim in its uniforms. We’re kicking things off with the U.S. Navy, who championed denim more than any other military force in the USA.

Bell Bottomed Beginnings – U.S. Navy

Royal Canadian Navy member waring Bell Bottoms. You can see the creases on the legs where the pants have been rolled up high for doing chores. Photo Catalogue Number VR1999.758.32 from CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum’s collection. Leon Cole/Pinterest

Bell Bottom trousers — regular to wide-fit pants with flared hems — were a style adopted by Sailors of both American and British origin in the early 19th century. While the information on the origins of Bell Bottoms is conflicting, it is accepted that wide pants (not just the flared ‘bell bottom’ type) were used by sailors as they could easily roll up the hems past their knees whilst performing chores like washing decks. With so much utilitarian use (lots of which was unofficial as the U.S. Navy did not have an official uniform in the early-to-mid 19th Century), it is only logical to assume that some of these bell-bottomed trousers would have been made from navy twill and, of course, blue denim.

Original article: James

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