Category Archives: Sportswear

1950s White Stag Canvas Jeans

I’m always impressed by the quality and styling of vintage White Stag clothing from the 1950s.  As if brown canvas jeans were not wonderful enough, White Stag added that extra bit of color at the hem.  And what a sophisticated palette for sportswear: black,white, turquoise, brown, and khaki.

Until the early 1960s, White Stage used a form of this blue label in their women’s sportswear.  Sometimes the label is red and sometimes it is white with red print.  Sometime around 1961 the label changed to white with gold print.

I’d like to know why all women’s jeans and slacks do not have side zippers.  They are infinitely more flattering, and just as convenient.

These can be worn with or without the striped cuff.

And finally, the rear view.

I’s hoped to find an ad for these pants, but so far I’ve had no luck.  White Stag advertised extensively, so I’m holding out hope that I’ll locate it.  In the meantime, here’s an ad from 1951 that shows the wide range of separates they were making in coordinating fabrics.

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Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Jantzen Swimsuit, Mid 1960s

I really love and appreciate all the great friends I’ve made through writing this blog.  So many of you have shared your stories about clothing and sewing, and all these stories make for a rich and varied shared history.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Janey at The Atomic Redhead.  Janey is lucky because she lives in the land of White Stag and Pendleton and Jantzen, otherwise known as Portland, Oregon.  From time to time I’ll get an email from her saying that she has a little something I might be interested in.  I must be greedy, because I’m always interested in Janey’s gifts.

The latest package from Janey contained the two piece swimsuit shown here.  It is, of course, from Jantzen, as the diving girl logo proudly announces.  It is made from a creamy white textured polyester knit, and the bra is very structured.  Many swimsuit bras from this era were made with a thin padded layer that over time degrades into a gritty powder.  But in this bra the padding is intact and shows no sign of powdering.

Thanks to movies like Bikini Beach and Beach Party, some people tend to think that bikinis were pretty skimpy in the mid 1960s, but in my little conservative town, this two piece was about as risqué as it got.  As the decade worn on, the bottoms got smaller, and the bras less structured, but in 1965 girls’ swimsuits were like armor!

I can remember my very first “grown-up” swimsuit.  It was a hand-me-down from my cousin Arlene, who was two years older than me and who lived near Atlanta and who was my idol.  The style was just like the Jantzen here, but was in shades of greens and brown.  I’d have never picked that color combination out, but I’ll have to admit, that at eleven years old, I felt very grown up wearing that suit.

This Coppertone ad from 1964 shows the style quite well.  No bellybuttons here!

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Uncategorized, Vintage Clothing

Edwards Sports and Beach Shops

This little advertising brochure is from Edwards Department Store in Rochester, New York.  It was “Rochester’s largest popular priced store.”  By popular priced they did not mean cheap; they meant moderately priced.  There is no date on the folder, but judging from hairstyles, skirt lengths and clothing details, my best guess is 1940 or so.

Two piece swimsuits were just coming into being in the late 1930s, and they were quite daring.

What’s really interesting is the wide variety of bathing suits that had become available by the end of the 1930s.  Suits were being made from woven cottons, like the middle one pictured, and were a lot like very short dresses with bloomers.

Lastex was added to both woven and to knit fabrics to give shape and a bit of control.  And for the traditionalist, wool jersey suits were still available.

The sports shop featured both slacks and shorts.  On the left is a blue denim overall.  These were very popular during WWII as many women went to work on farms and in factories.

The playsuit was a versatile, if inconvenient at times, garment.  Wear it with the skirt on the street, without it on the tennis court.

Click each photo to see an enlarged view.

 

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Red Gingham Times Two

I recently received a box in the mail that made Christmas look like a second-rate holiday.  Reader June Lepidow had written and asked If I’d like a pair of 1950s clam diggers and a pair of jeans from the 1940s.  Well, of course I would.

When the box arrived I was shocked to also find the above swimsuit, and early 1950s skirt and an Hawaiian print halter dress from the early 1960s.  That June really knows how to pack a box!

The label in the swimsuit was Surf Togs.  That little R in a circle means that the trademark is registered, so I was able to locate the information about the company in the US Patent and Trademark Office website.   The name dates from 1933  as a maker of knit swimwear.  They were located in New Rochelle, New York and was owned by Jacob Soloman.

I love the lines of silver lurex. I do think a bit of effort could have been made in matching the check.

The inside structure consists of metal boning, which you can see has begun to rust, and which has poked a hole in the fabric.  The use of metal in a swimsuit is quite puzzling, but a suit like this one is probably more suited to pool and ocean-side lounging, rather than actual swimming.

I’ve written before about how bathing suits from the 1950s were styled much in the same manner as a sundress.  Just visualize a long circle skirt with the top of this suit.  A lot of vintage sewing patterns for bathing suits show a coordinating skirt or shorts.  You could go to the beach wearing the bathing suit with the skirt over it and not have to worry about finding a changing room.

With this bathing suit you might have worn these clam diggers.  The gingham is not the same, of course, but the color is very similar.  This piece was another of the gift from June.  According to her, all the clothes came from the same woman, so maybe these pieces were worn together at one time.

Sometimes, it is all about the details.

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Filed under Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Brownie Gymsuit, 1930s – 40s

I recently added another gymsuit to my little collection of them.  My best guess is that this one is from the late 1930s, or maybe into the early years of the 40s.  In fact I have a 1940 catalog from maker Aldrich & Aldrich that shows a suit that has a lot of the same features.

Gymsuits are not fashion items, but to some extent they did follow fashion, or at least sports clothes fashion.   In the case of my gymsuit, the pleated sleeves were very popular in the mid 1930s.   Maybe some gymsuit maker noted the fashion and realized that this sleeve was a good one for use in a garment that needed to let the wearer move.

Other features that increased mobility were the pleated skirt and the presence of an inverted pleat in the back.

To make it easier to get dressed in the small amount of time that a school schedule allowed, there were snaps instead of buttons, and a metal belt clasp that did not require buckling.

I’m always amazed at how well vintage gymsuits are constructed.  The fabric is usually a cotton; either a broadcloth, poplin or a lightweight duck.   They were made to last through four years of physical education.

There were quite a few gymsuit makers, but Brownie is a new one to me.  It is interesting that the label was based in St. Louis, home to the fashion industry for the teen set.

A brownie is a sort of elf-like creature, similar to Dobby in the Harry Potter series, but cuter.  They were popularized in the late 19th century by illustrator and writer, Palmer Cox.   The Brownie branch of the Girl Scouts was named for them.

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear

Vintage Bathing Shoes: 1930s? 1940s? 1950s?

A lot of the fun of collecting anything is finding out about the things one has selected as worthy of their collection.  Sometimes this quest for knowledge is easy, thanks to Mr. Google.  But there are other times that I finally give up and consult an expert.

Above is a pair of rubber bathing shoes made by the United States Rubber Company, the company that also manufactured Keds sneakers.  Before the mid 1920s, bathing shoes were generally made from canvas, but by 1930 the old style had been replaced with the new rubber models.  They were, as one can imagine, much more practical, being waterproof.  Rubber bathing shoes remained popular throughout the 1930s, but by the 40s, more people were going barefoot in the water, and wearing sandals on the beach and at poolside.

At first glance, these shoes seem to be 1930s bathing shoes.  The style and the shape of the toe indicate a mid 30s to 1940 manufacture.  The box graphics and fonts also look 1930s.  So why am I questioning the dating?

The problem lies within the sole.  This wavy sole, made from what looks to be rubberized cork, is commonly found on shoes from the 1950s.  But were bathing shoes even still being made in 1950?  For help I turned to shoe expert, Jonathan Walford.

I felt a lot better after Jonathan emailed back that he found them to be confusing as well, saying that he did not associate the wavy soles with pre-WWII shoes.   And he did confirm that rubber bathing shoes were made into the 1950s.  His mother had a pair that she wore in the early 50s at the family beach cottage because of sharp shells and slimy seaweed.

It was Jonathan’s feeling that these shoes are most likely 1935-1940.  I agree with him, but I’m still looking for a source that clearly shows this type sole on a 1930s shoe.  The problem is that in ads, catalogs, and fashion spreads, the sole of a shoe is usually not shown.  I’ve seen a few maybes in late 30s catalogs, but nothing definite.  And as always, your thoughts are welcome.

I got these great shoes from Carol at Dandelion Vintage.  She runs what has to be one of the oldest online vintage stores on the Web.  She has nice things and excellent prices.  Thanks, Carol!

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Filed under Shoes, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Jantzen – Made in Canada

Jantzen made their name and fortune on swimsuits, but started out as a knitter of sweaters, socks and gloves.  The company was founded in 1910 as the Portland Knitting Company.  Later in the decade someone got the idea to make bathing suits using the machine that knit sweater cuffs.  It produced a knit suit that was ribbed, and thus was a better fitting bathing suit.  By 1918 the company was renamed Jantzen Knitting Mills, and the main product was their famous swimsuits.

This souvenir postcard shows the administration building of Jantzen.  The card is not dated, but the cars are late 1920s models, and according to several sources, this building was constructed in 1929.  The growth of Jantzen must have been amazing, as the back of the cards claims that over 1,750,000 swimming suits were produced annually at the Portland facility.

What is also interesting is that the card mentions that Jantzen was also manufacturing swimsuits abroad.  It was a kind of reverse out-sourcing, where the company produced in other countries not to import to the US, but to sell in that country.  Note that in the 1920s, Jantzen was making swimsuits in Oregon, England, Australia, Canada, and New Jersey.

In 1941 Jantzen returned to the sweater business  as part of their new sportswear line.  My sweater, from the 1940s, was made in Canada for the Canadian market.  It came to me as a gift from Deborah at BigYellowTaxiVintage, which is located in Canada.

Jantzen is still in operation today, but as far as I know all their manufacturing is now out-sourced.  They do make very nice, 1950s vintage inspired suits.

Unlike many companies that were sold and resold over the years, Jantzen has retained a large archive of material, both garments and paper items such as catalogs and advertising.  The archive. located in the 1929 administration building,  is not open to the public, but it is a nice thought knowing that the archivist can reach far back into Jantzen’s history when necessary.

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing