Middy blouse

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A short-sleeved middy blouse as part of a Sailor-fuku (Japanese school uniform for girls).
Sailor dress (left) and middy blouse (right). AI-generated painting by Spankart, 2023.

A middy blouse ("middy" derives from "midshipman") is a blouse with a wide flap collar. Middy shirt and sailor shirt are synonyms for the garment.

Middy blouses were worn by both boys and girls from toddler to high school age. Men would usually wear them only as sailor uniforms and costumes. Women, on the other hand, began to wear them for sports and fashion, and today sometimes for a schoolgirl look.


Middy blouses were originally usually made of a a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric named cotton duck. Today, they are made from all kinds of fabrics. They are often white in color while the collar and cuffs are often navy blue. Other popular colors include powder blue, grey and black.

Originally, middy blouses were cut wide. Around 1910, a tighter cut became fashionable in which the garment hung straight from the shoulders to the hips. This became also known as a middy top or just a middy for short. While the middy blouse was traditionally long-sleeved, with shirt cuffs at the wrists, short-sleeved variants came up in the 20th century.


For boys, middy blouses were usually combined with bell-bottomed trousers or shorts, as part of a sailor suit. For girls, they were combined with skirts, often pleated skirts, or with bloomers. The top and the bottom part of the combination could be of the same or of contrasting color, e.g. a white blouse combined with a navy skirt. An alternative for girls was the one-piece sailor dress.

Sometimes a scarf or a bow is worn together with a middy blouse. It goes under the collar and is tied or knotted in the front.


Middy blouses became popular in the mid-19th century. They were worn by children of all ages, first only by boys and then by both sexes.

Around 1880, women's sport blouses began sporting sailor type collars. This type collar was soon also used on dresses, bathing suits, and female gym uniforms.

From sportswear and children's wear the middy developed to become a fashion for ladies, and has since resurfaced from time to time as such.

In the 1920s, sailor outfits became popular as school uniforms for girls in Japan. They are there (and in other East Asian countries) widespread to the present day: see Sailor fuku. Interestingly, in East Asia generally only girls wear sailor outfits, but not boys. As as result, the style has become strongly associated with schoolgirls, which has led to the fetishization of sailor fuku. They are also very prominent within manga and anime.

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