Dress No. 5 - Sailor's Working Clothes

Workwear and issued protective clothing pieces.

Putting Together the Outfit

The denim trousers and jacket made up a part of the Dress No. 5 outfit. They would have been paired with a working shirt instead of the jersey and duffle coat photographed here, though the jersey and duffle coat were also included in the complete sailor's kit. All items have been selected as examples of this sailor's kit. 

Uniform Instructions for the Royal Canadian Navy. Article 7.01 Dresses and Occasions. 1951.

Dress No. 5

Occasion: On working days for duties of a dirty nature when other clothing might be spoiled.

Class I

Jacket, working 
Trousers, working
Shirts, working
Cap with White Cover
Black Shoes or Boots
Blue Badges

Class II

Jacket, working 
Trousers, working
Shirts, working
White cap
Black Shoes or Boots
Blue Badges

Duffle Coat Duffle Coat Duffle Coat Jersey

Bad Weather? No Problem

There are no iconic sailor's collars in sight here! This workwear is not for show but due to its usefulness across so many work situations it manages to look permanently in style--then, and now.

Issued protective clothing is designed and constructed specifically to help service members do their jobs in cold, damp weather. This duffle coat, owned by John Morrison Grant circa the mid-20th century, is designed for the cold. It is made of heavy wool, and is generously sized--but, not oversized to the point of getting snagged or caught. It is heavily top-stitched and reinforced around stress points.

The wood toggles are the only fasteners; it is not meant to be restrictive around the body during outdoor work.

A piece of thin fabric tape might not stand up to the wear and tear of outerwear--labels on more rugged kit pieces needed to be hardier. On many pieces of outerwear in the Maritime Museum of BC collection, a service member's name is stamped or written directly on the fabric. 

The jersey, owned by Jack Slater around the same time, is listed as regulation kit, but was not required for any dress occasion in the 1951 version of Uniform Instructions for The Royal Canadian Navy. It has fleece on the inside for warmth.

Jacket Jacket Jacket Jacket Trousers Trousers

Hard-Wearing Clothes for Hard Work

Sturdy materials like canvas, wool, and denim are often used in uniforms and workwear. The cut of workwear is also important. As with the duffle coat, too much extra material gets in the way and can be dangerous if caught in machinery or on deck. 

Worn for the dirtiest jobs, both of these jean pieces--a working jacket and working trousers--were owned by Jack Slater. His name is stamped on them as well. Interestingly, these stamps are on the outside of the garments, in highly visible spots. No insconspicuous fabric tape here, either! Even the carefully mended tear on the jacket sleeve is sturdily visible.

The trousers are cut in a high-waisted 1940s style, but are otherwise extremely ordinary jeans! The enduring quality of workwear is that, across industries and professions, it gets the job done.

Only the jacket has a maker's label, dating it to 1955. This piece was manufactured specifically for the Royal Canadian Navy and constructed to exact specifications. However, if any kit item was not available, a service member would receive cash to purchase or have such a garment made. They received descriptions for each item for such cases, like the one listed below.

Description of Naval Uniforms (Men)

Article 9.07 Jackets, Working

Blue denim; single-breasted; back yoke; six button fly front with two pleated breast patch pockets; a self faced one piece stand and fall collar; shirt type sleeve with adjustable cuffs. Side adjustment straps shall be fitted on both sides of the waistband.

What's In the Kit?

For all dress occasions, service members in the regular force of the Royal Canadian Navy received the same set of items and garments. Different combinations of these objects created different uniforms for different occasions. The objects highlighted in the exhibit above are bolded below.

Article 8.02 Regulation Kit--Men of the Regular Force

All Men

Badges (in accordance with 8.46)
1 Bag, soap
1 Belt, waist, blue
1 Belt, waist, white
2 Pr. Boots, leather, ankle
1 Box, cap
1 Brush, black fibre bristle
1 Brush, shoe, black horsehair bristle
1 Brush, clothes
1 Comb
1 Pr. Gloves, leather, lined
6 Handkerchiefs
1 Holdall
1 Housewife
1 Jacket, working
1 Kit bag
1 Overcoat, man's
1 Pr. Rubbers, black
1 Pr. Sandals
1 Scarf, blue
2 Shirts, working
1 Pr. Shoes, gymnasium
1 Pr. Shoes, leather, black
2 Pr. Shorts, gymnastic
1 Pr. Shorts, tropical, blue
4 Pr. Socks, black
2 Pr. Stockings, black
2 Sweatshirt
2 Tee-shirts, utility
1 Toothbrush
2 Towels, bath
2 Towels, hand
2 Pr. Trousers, working
2 Pr. Underwear, combinations
4 Underweart, shirts
4 Pr. Underwear, shorts
1 Utility Bag

Men Dressed in Class II Uniform (Petty Officers 2nd Class and below)

1 Belt, waist, white
1 Cap, seaman's, blue
1 Cap, seaman's, white
3 Collars, blue jean
2 Jerseys, uniform
1 Coat, oilskin, long
3 Jumpers, worsted serge, slide fastener
2 Jumpers, drill, slide fastener
1 Knife, pocket, seaman's
2 Lanyards, knife, seaman's
2 Ribbons, cap
2 Scarves, uniform
2 Pr. Stockings, seaboot
2 Pr. Trousers, drill, slide fastener
3 Pr. Trousers, worsted serge, slide fastener
2 Vests, uniform, cotton
2 Vests, uniform, flannel

[The Royal Canadian Navy. (1951). Uniform Instructions for The Royal Canadian Navy (BRCN 108 ed.). King’s Printer and Controller of Stationery.]

Dress No. 5 - Sailor's Working Clothes