What the heck is a diving belle, you ask? It was Jantzen’s name for their swim caps, a cutesy name if there ever was one. Most of the ones I’ve seen show a real effort to pretty up what many consider to be an unflattering thing. They added flowers and ruffles and bows and embossing.
The one I’m showing off today is a great example. The attached rubber flowers detracted from the bald-look of a plain cap. This type of decoration was common in the 1950s and 60s.
The big problem with many vintage swim caps with applied decoration is that the decorations are often in bad condition. If exposure to saltwater and chlorine were not enough, 60 years of storage, often in hot attics or damp basements, was the destroyer of many rubber caps.
So, luckily for me, one of my favorite online sellers, Small Earth Vintage, recently listed this one on etsy. From Karen’s photos I could tell that I’d finally found the excellent condition cap I’d been searching for, at a reasonable price.
I don’t shop a lot online, mainly because to me it is the actual hunt for vintage that is the most fun. But I love stumbling across something wonderful on etsy or on other websites, and if it is a seller I know and trust, I don’t hesitate to buy.
Those ridges are supposed to form a seal to keep water out. They usually did not work very well.
Swim caps always look strange on mannequin heads because their ears do not flatten like a real person’s does. That’s part of the reason swim caps are so uncomfortable; they scrunch in the ears.