Vintage 1940s Jantzen Tee Shirt and Shorts Set

I’m back from my little vintage buying trip, and I’m ready to show off the special things I found.   I really do not buy large quantities of stuff, especially since I narrowed the focus of my collection to mainly sportswear.  It helps me to be able to zero in on the stuff that fits in with the types of things I like to acquire and research.

First up is a sweet tee shirt and matching shirts set from Jantzen.  I almost missed this set.  The lady who had it in her booth was still unpacking things, and when I passed by the box of unpacked merchandise I spotted the Jantzen logo.  I simply could not believe it when I saw that there were matching shorts, and that both were unworn.

The label in both pieces is found in Jantzen items dating from the late 1940s and into the early 1950s.    The shirt is cotton knit and the shorts are a cotton twill.

The shorts are cuffed and have a back metal zipper.

Best of all is the presence of this original sticker.  It was due to the sticker that I was able to narrow down the date of the set.  Style-wise it could be anywhere in the 1940s and early to mid 50s.   It was my hope to find the set in a period advertisement, and while I found quite a few similar ones online, I did not located the exact set.  But what I did notice was that all the ads had a price list in the ad copy.

Since I know my tee shirt was $2.95, I looked at all the prices of Jantzen tee shirts.  What I found was that up until 1945, they advertised their tees at $2.  By 1947 they were $2.95, but in a 1950s ad I noticed that the price had dropped to $2.50.  I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that my set dates between 1947 and 1949.

Another hint as to date might be the colors.  I do not know enough about what colors were “fashionable” during which years.  Wouldn’t that information make a fantastic reference book though?

One 1948 ad actually showed the stripe combinations that were available, but mine was not included.   I’m sure the answer is out there, and eventually I’ll find it.  But honestly, even though I love to have matching ads for items in my collection, it really does not matter that much to me whether the year is 1947 or 1950.    Items like this set were worn over spans of several years anyway.

Yes, that is an actual pocket, perfect for a dollar bill and the house key.


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

16 responses to “Vintage 1940s Jantzen Tee Shirt and Shorts Set

  1. What a great find! I’ve always loved the diver in the Jantzen logo.


    • They had/have a great logo, and they used it widely and to their advantage. In the 1920s they made big stickers of the logo that were an early car bumper sticker, and they also gave away decals for the windows.


  2. Liz..conratulations on your find. Where did you go, anyway???

    Is there a year when women’s pants/shorts started putting zippers in front…no longer sides or backs. Did it have anything to do with women being liberated?

    You bring up an interesting point using the year certain colors were promoted as a way to identifying years. For instance Orange is 2014 and I think chartruse is about 1012 or so…etc. Those are the only two I can recall.


    • Marge, I went to the Liberty Antiques Festival, and then spent the weekend in Greensboro and area hitting all the vintage shops and antique malls.

      Most women’s pants had the zipper on the side, excepting jeans, until the 1970s when trousers became popular for women. You see the zipper in the back when, as in these shorts, there is a side detail. There may be an indirect relationship between the women’s lib movement and front zippers, but I’ve never read anything connecting the two. You mat be on to something!


  3. What a great find! And so cool that you were able to date it so much easier with the original stickers still being attached!

    I have the book “The Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations: 500+ Historic And Modern Color Formulas in CMYK” by Leslie Cabarga. I find myself using it all the time! If you can find yourself a copy, it would probably help you. (Strangely, I can only find it as ebook for Kindle or Nook when I went to look for a link. It’s not really as useful as an ebook.) Look around the art section of a bookstore – you never know when you will find a good historical color reference book.

    It doesn’t look like Pantone has been doing the Color of the Year thing for very long (since 2000 according to their website), but has lots of good color info you might find useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, thanks to all! Not only are you extremely knowledgeable, Lizzie, but so are your readers. I’m definitely going to get that book.


  5. Christina

    This article explains the how influence of dyes and colour cards dictated fashion before Pantone. It was quite a smooth transition. Today it’s all about psychology.


  6. What a truly amazing find! Great addition to your wonderful collection.


  7. Carrie

    Great find, Lizzie! Like you, I’ve used the price on a deadstock item to help date it when I can’t find an exact ad. Vintage deductive reasoning is FUN!


  8. Oh my gosh! This is adorable! And so perfectly suited for your collection! And how much fun to track down the date!


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