Napoleonic Tars: 1790-1820 is a no-profit blog exploring the clothing and appearance of common British and American sailors in the thirty years that roughly span the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars through the few years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It is my hope that this blog will be a convenient, searchable online resource for historians, costumers, and reenactors.

As I am focusing on common sailors I will not be addressing the clothing of officers or merchant captains, unless they are wearing something representative of a common mariner. Unless otherwise noted this blog uses only works of art that were created between 1790-1820.

I try to only include images in the public domain, and a direct link to any image's host site in every post. If you believe any of these images are not in the public domain, or are being used without correct attribution or permission, please contact me.

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A Note on Language

I have tried to use the language of the time period to refer to garments, though there are exceptions. Several of my choices come from the terminology used in Tyler Putman's "Joseph Long’s Slops: Ready-Made Clothing in Early America", including:
  • The wide garment worn over breeches is referred to and tagged as "petticoat breeches". I do not use the term "slops" except to refer to inexpensive, ready-made clothing. (note, summer 2017: following advice from the author of British Tars and the prevalence of differing terminology in the period this is potentially being revised to be "petticoat trousers")
  • A piece of cloth worn folded and wrapped around the neck is referred to and tagged as a "handkerchief".
  • A short (cut above the thigh), long-sleeved garment is referred to as a "jacket".
Further guidance came from Matthew Brenckle:
  • A hat with a round brim is referred to and tagged as a "round hat", regardless of the style of the crown.
  • A decorative bow in a hat is referred to and tagged as a "rosette".
Thanks to Carol K. for advice on referring to wearing shoes "sailor fashion": the 18th c. word for the part of the shoe pulled through the buckle is strap, not latchet.

As the blog progresses I have no doubt that other decisions of terminology will need to be made, and that I will discover previous errors I have made. I am grateful to the guidance of the many historians who are helping me with my research to make this study possible.