Au Bon Marché Sports Clothes Catalog – Early 1930s


Most of my collecting involves USA made fashion and industry, but sometimes one just has to look at other influences to see the entire picture.  If you are looking at the 1960s fashion scene, you can’t ignore what was happening in London.  And even though sportswear is very often best exemplified as American, you can’t ignore the influence of Jean Patou and Coco Chanel in France in the 1920s and 30s.

Au Bon Marché dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century and was the first grand Parisian department store.  It is still open as Le Bon Marché.

My catalog does not have a date anywhere, but it is from 1931 or 1932. It is full of the delightful things that make one want to pack up the automobile and head for the closest sandy beach.

The front cover folds out and the wares are displayed in a panorama with that sandy shore in the background.  All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The men and boys are still modestly attired in their tank suits (swimming briefs were soon to make their appearance, though).  What is really interesting is item number 14. This is the earliest example I’ve ever seen of a woman’s two piece suit that bares the midriff.

As expected, all the bathing suits are made from wool knit.  What I found to be interesting is that three of the women’s pyjamas  -17,25, and 29 – were also made from wool jersey knit.  Only number 21 was made from the cotton duck cloth one would expect to find here in the States.  The robes or peignoir du bains, were all made from terrycloth.


Number 24 seems to be as risque as the two piece.  I’ve love to see how much of the front is exposed.

And how about the rubber swim cap the little girl in number 28 is wearing?  Scottie dogs on a swim cap!  Actually, all the caps are pretty incredible.


The man in his blouse et pantalon pour la peche ou le bateau could only be a Frenchman, no?


Be sure to notice how one could change the angle of the large umbrella in the center by moving the pole to a different hole.


I’ve wanted a portable gramophone ever since I first saw Sabrina and Humphrey Bogart pulled his old one out of the closet to take on his boating date with Audrey Hepburn. And while I’m fantasy shopping,  I’ll also take that picnic basket.


Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

8 responses to “Au Bon Marché Sports Clothes Catalog – Early 1930s

  1. poppysvintageclothing

    Love it….who wouldn’t want that lovely striped deck chair and mini tent for their day at the beach!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, We have no Bananas! I love that scene in Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Great summertime find, Lizzie! My picks: The beach pajamas. In red (top cover shot) and blue (second shot). I love the little buttons on the side. The ball is also pretty great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, gorgeous find! I’d love to have that fold-out camera & the portable paint set! And all the dresses & hats, but only if I could also get the body shape to go with ’em! looong sigh . . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, those striped tents remind me of sailing across the English Channel in a small yacht 21 years ago – the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings. We dotted along the coast from Cherbourg, touring the beaches and getting a remarkably warm welcome whenever we stopped. We spent a little time in Deauville and Trouville, resorts which still sport this kind of beach-glam style. I think they called it the Cannes of Normandy – there are beach huts with the names of the great movie stars stencilled on them. Definitely worth googling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So dreamy! As a non-sun worshipper, I love that there are so many opportunities here for covering up, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And surely only you could pick out those Scotties on the bathing cap!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Leigh Ann

    I somehow missed this post earlier! I love those ads! On a trip to France last year, I insisted that we take a trip to Le Bon Marche, to see the haberdashery section. It was wonderful. The French do that kind of thing so well. Most of the items were French made, good quality, and adorably packaged. I ended up with various kinds of pins, some buttons, zippers, and at the last minute, a sewing box which my husband bought me for my birthday and which we had to mail home, because it was such a nuisance on the train. My personal proportions being about twice the size of the tiny Parisiennes (well, okay, maybe not quite that), I didn’t shop for clothes there, and contained my purchases to sewing supplies. But the store is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Vintage Miscellany – June 14, 2015 | The Vintage Traveler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.