|"Rating's trousers". English, c. 1810. National Maritime Museum.|
Striped red or blue trousers are closely linked with the portrayals of sailors in art, from the early 18th century to the end of the period I study and beyond. An early example of sailors with striped trousers comes in a detail the 1746 painting "The Royal Family" - screencap courtesy of British Tars: 1740-1790.
|Detail from "The Royal Family", c. 1746. Richard Green Fine Art.|
Artists from caricaturists to serious painters continue to depict sailors with striped trousers throughout the 18th century, and into the 19th. For more examples, I recommend looking at the "striped trousers" tags for both my blog and British Tars.
|Detail from "The Embarkation", c.1760's. NMM.|
|Detail from "A story of a little parson and the sailor, 1797"|
|Trouser detail. Visit the NMM page to see the high-resolution original photo.|
The buttons are horn; the fall relatively shallow and narrow and bound at the edges, closed by two corner buttons and a central button, and the waistband by three buttons, including the center one that goes through the fall. These trousers also have buttons for holding up braces - an extremely useful detail, as sailors are usually depicted wearing jackets and waistcoats in artwork, and when in their shirtsleeves are inconsistently shown wearing braces. The waistband closes at the back with gusset cut on the diagonal and laced shut with small lacing-holes, a detail seen recently on this blog in John Augustus's Atkinson's 1807 print "Sailors".
The garment looks like it's pieced at the top of the leg and fly - perhaps the fabric was not long enough, or it's a construction detail I'm unfamiliar with. The legs are cut narrow and straight. It is difficult to tell where they might have fallen on the leg without knowing the inseam of the man who wore them, though artwork of the c. 1810 time period shows trouser hems around the ankle.
As always, though it's possible to make informed generalizations about sailor clothing from how artists depicted them, their prejudices and conventions can make it difficult to determine the details what sailors were actually wearing. The rareness of extant artifacts creates its own survival bias, but having a garment like this to compare to artwork is a great treasure.