Gymsuit Trauma

I guess it wasn’t enough that I have a “new” 1865 exercise dress, and a 1915 gymsuit, I also have a new 1940s one, thanks to my good friend Amanda, who resides in Vermont.  She actually got this at a clothing swap, which sounds like my kind of event!
It came in the mail a few days ago, and now that I have it, I’m not 100% sure it was used as a gymsuit.  It’s the wealth of details that are throwing me off:  the two buttoned pockets, the little belt flaps, and something you can’t see – sewn in shoulder pads.  It’s possible it was made as a playsuit, and I’m fairly certain there was once a matching skirt.  There are snaps on the back of the waistband for attaching it.
Still, the color just screams “gymsuit” and so that could have been the purpose.  And here is a page from an Aldrich & Aldrich catalog from 1940 showing very similar styles:
So it could go either way.  And to be honest, this irritates me just a tad.  Speaking from personal experience, a gymsuit should be anything BUT cute and stylish.
When I started junior high in 1967, we were required to buy a gymsuit.  Unfortunately, they were stark white and made from a cheap cotton fabric.  They were the ugliest garments any of us had ever seen, and now we were forced to wear them three days a week.   The girls who were tall and tan looked pretty good in them, but I was neither.  And as we aged, the gymsuit did not change.  Some of the girls took advantage of this by continuing to wear their suit long after they had outgrown it.  I had no such luck, having reached my adult height at age 12.
So why was it that girls in 1940 got to wear a sweet little number like my new yellow suit?
To get over this trauma, I may have to make my own version of this, including skirt.  I even have the perfect blue and white striped cotton:


Posted by Jennifer:

I notice that at the waistline there are no buttons – that would suggest to me a playsuit with matching skirt as I doubt a gym suit would need that touch?

Thursday, November 4th 2010 @ 5:47 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

That’s a good point, Jennifer. I’m a bit puzzled about the tabs at the sides as well. Perhaps there was a matching belt??

Thursday, November 4th 2010 @ 6:34 AM

Posted by Hollis:

If our awful navy blue gymsuits with elastic bloomer legs had looked like this, I wouldn’t have minded gym class 5 days a week nearly so much.
It could be a play suit, but it’s adorable either way.

Thursday, November 4th 2010 @ 9:49 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Hollis, it’s almost like they wanted us to dislike PE!!

Saturday, November 6th 2010 @ 1:25 PM

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