trousers, Blue Serge, Bell Bottomed, Rating's, Royal Navy
Bell-bottomed trousers of dark blue serge featuring a zipper fly with double button closing at the waist, slanted hip pockets, right rear slash pocket, five belt loops, and seven horizontal creases down each leg.
Bell bottomed trousers, introduced for wear in 1857, remained an 'icon' of Royal Navy rating's 'square rig', until well into the 1970s. Bell bottomed trousers were practical garments for men who worked sailing ships since they could be rolled up securely to clear the feet and ankles when working the rigging. In common with all other items of a sailor's kit, trousers were kept folded ready for use in a kit bag. Kept inside out to avoid fluff on the outer surface and to avoid 'shine' by ironing, they were folded horizontally at about a hand's width and taped into a rectangular 'block'. When worn, this produced inverted vertical creases down the side of the leg and five or seven, depending on the height of the wearer, horizontal creases down the leg. In time these were accepted as the thing to have and were pressed firmly into place from the early years of the century. Since the First World War bell bottoms were purchased for tradition rather than any practical use but were replaced by flared trousers in 1977.