British seaman, circa 1807

Caption: British seaman, circa 1807

The dress of British sailors of the early 19th century could have endless variations and embelishments. For instance, some trimmed their blue jackets with white tape at the seams and edges; others had many small brass buttons sewed closely together; the white trousers often had blue stripes; the black tarred hats were sometimes painted with devices or the ship's name painted in white on a black hat ribbon. Shirts could come in blue-striped or checkered versions as well as plain white, red or blue or even white with red or blue spots.