A few weeks ago I got an email from Janey at Atomic Redhead, asking if I’d like to have an early 1970s White Stag tennis dress. That was a simple “yes” as you probably guessed already. And I was really sold after seeing the embroidered stag on the pocket.
White Stag was one of those big sportswear companies that sort of lost its way in the late 1970s. The cotton canvas togs of the past didn’t appeal in a polyester world, so they went polyester. By then the Hirsch family, founders of the company, had sold it to the giant corporation, Warnaco, which was interested in profits, not the heritage of White Stag. They continued making ski and other sports clothing, but they were not able to compete in the increasingly more technical business of active sports clothing. Eventually the company concentrated on making casual separates. Today the label is owned by Walmart.
In the early to mid 1970s, Americans were really loving their red, white and blue. Funny how the celebration of an historical event (the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence) helped shaped people’s color choices. And I have the perfect red and blue tennis panties to go along with this sweet little dress.
Janey, many thanks for such a super gift!
At first glance this skirt simply looked like a nice early 1950s straight skirt in a lovely color and with an interesting button placement. But then I noticed the belt. It was a golf tee holder.
By that time the seller was starting to unbutton the skirt, which is not a skirt at all.
It is actually a culotte or divided skirt, but it is cleverly disguised by the stitched pleats. The back is also stitched, and it just looks like an inverted pleat.
This was not a new idea in the 1950s. Before it was acceptable for women to wear trousers, there were all kinds of ingenious ways to make a skirt have two legs. I have an example from the 1910s in my collection, and it is quite similar to this 1950s culotte skirt.
I really don’t know a thing about Sporteens, except that the listings that I’ve found of items for sale with the label are overwhelmingly skirts. I also found a 1944 ad for a jacket and matching skirt.
And here is a very similar one, but without the buttons, from California sportswear designer De De Johnson, 1952
This early 1920s bathing suit was a lucky Ruby Lane find. I sometimes forget about Ruby Lane, and that is a shame because for the most part the sellers do a good job of categorizing the merchandise, therefore making searching and browsing easy. And while the site does allow clothing that is 20 years or older, they do not have a 1980s nor a 1990s category, so unlike etsy where it seems so much of the clothing in the vintage category is younger than my 16 year old dog Spooky, most of the Ruby Lane vintage category is filled with real vintage items. On the downside, they do not allow “Used or previously worn underwear or swimsuits,” and all items newer than 1945 must have a label.
So how did I happen to find such a great swimsuit on Ruby Lane? Maybe the excellent condition led the seller to think it was unworn. Yes, let’s just assume that was it.
I love it when something arrives and it just totally exceeds my expectations. The color is so rich, and I’m crazy about the nod to nautical in the collar and white trim. I love how the overskirt is dropped below the waist, just like a 1920s frock would be.
This is actually the oldest J.C. Penney label I’ve ever seen. James Cash Penney opened his first store in 1902, but the name J.C. Penney Co. dates from 1913.
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.
To a vintage collector, one of the best things is finding an item in print, and then seeing the actual object. In this case, it is a virtual seeing, but still it is enough to bring a smile.
I’ve been looking closely at swim or bathing caps, trying to find a few to match up with some bathing suits in my collection that are in need of the proper headwear. In doing do I ran across a very nice cap on etsy – one that looked vaguely familiar. In looking back at prior posts on swim caps, I realized where I’d seen it.
I posted this ad from U.S. Rubber last June. It is from 1958, and says the following about the “lace” cap:
Look at the wonderful new things that have happened to swim caps… Chantilly Lace in new feather-light, divinely comfortable U.S. Aquafoam
Luckily for collectors today, the rubber makers kept trying to make an unattractive item look more desirable to women. Their experimentation is our gain in the variety and novelty of the swim caps manufactured in the 1950s. Thanks, U.S. Rubber!
And thanks to etsy seller IngridIceland for the use of her photos.
Yesterday I did something that I rarely ever do: I went to the second main day of a flea market. Considering that the rainy conditions on Friday would have turned flea marketing from fun to drudgery, I really had little choice. I’ll give a full report on the finds later this week. Today I want to share one little bit of excitement.
The photo above is of Shirley Pittinger and a mystery friend. It was taken in 1939 at Mountain Lake, New Jersey. It was her bathing suit that caught my eye.
Though it is hard to tell from my photo of a photo, she does appear to be wearing the Jantzen swimsuit above. It was released in 1937 and was caller “The Uplifter.” I messed up and did not buy all the shots of her wearing the suit, but in several of them you can clearly see the plastic tips of the ties.
I’m afraid this shows just how easily excited I am. But while I’m constantly on the prowl for ads that match items in my collection, this is the first time I’ve found an actual photograph of a woman wearing the goods. So yes, call me easy.
EDIT: My friend Lynne was able to sharpen up the photo a bit for me:
Thanks so much, Lynne.