Original U.S. WWII US Navy Chief Petty Officer Shirt Custom Tailored As A Souvenir Jacket With Extensive Chinese Embroidery
Original Item: One-Of-A-Kind. The “Chief Petty Officer's” shirt was originally designed in the 1930’s for cold weather work in the U.S. Navy. This all-time classic shirt jacket has become universally known as a “CPO Shirt," though the actual application of this garment was not limited to U. S. Navy Chief Petty Officers.
The style evolved over the years, eventually having two breast pockets both with open tops and with pocket flaps, but the 1st version is immediately identifiable by the single breast pocket with scalloped pocket flap. Scores of these shirts were produced to meet the needs of the U. S. Navy during WWII. The clean, simple, practical design of the shirt, particularly this two-pocket version, and its hard-wearing, cozy, wool-flannel construction met with a very favorable reception by the sailors to whom it was issued. After WWII, the “CPO Shirts,” as they came to be called, were widely worn among the civilian population of the USA due to the vast number of discharged sailors who continued to wear their issued shirts.
This CPO shirt was custom tailored to have the appearance of a “Ike” jacket, which was often referred to as a “battle jacket” in the 1940s into the early 50s. The battle jacket (or Ike jacket), was roomy in the shoulders, chest, and torso, but ended snugly at the waist with a tab button belt. Two large pleated pockets on the chest were a good place to hold tools, notes, or cigarettes.
This “battle jacket” was heavily decorated with Chinese embroidery, which consists of 2 dragons on each of the front pockets and a large dragon on the back, all in the old Chinese style artwork.
The roots of the Souvenir Jacket, or Sukajan in Japanese, can be traced back to American soldiers stationed in the Pacific Theater following the end of World War II. During the post-war occupation, American troops began getting traditional Japanese designs hand-stitched into the backs of their jackets to commemorate their time in Japan. Popular designs included Japanese (and Chinese) style dragons, cherry blossoms and trees. Other soldiers chose local artwork that ranged from traditional maps to Geisha girls. These jackets would often incorporate rayon and silk and, in some cases, were actually constructed from excess silk salvaged from military parachutes. These jackets were brought back to the United States as literal souvenirs and sometimes were purchased as gifts for family members and close friends. Other than the embroidered designs themselves, this style of jacket is defined by its cut, which is similar to a classic American baseball jacket, or in this case, a “battle jacket”. They often incorporated bold colors and contrasting sleeves. The origin of the term ‘Sukajan’ is contested; with some believing the word was an amalgamation of Sky Dragon Jumper in Japanese. Others trace the origins of the name to Yokosuka, an area where American soldiers were stationed; simply combine the words ‘Yokosuka’ and Japanese-accented ‘Jumper’ and you get ‘Sukajan.’
This example is in incredible condition and completely free of any significant damage. All embroidery is still very vibrant and complete without any thread loss. This is hands-down one of the best examples we have seen of these souvenir jackets!
Comes more than ready for further research and display.
Collar to shoulder: 9”
Shoulder to sleeve: 15.5”
Shoulder to shoulder: 22.5”
Chest width: 18”
Waist width: 17”
Hip width: 16”
Front length: 23"
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