1933 – 1935 Beach Ensemble

One of my biggest splurges of the past year was this four-piece beach or sailing ensemble. After years of building a collection, I’ve learned that it’s better to wait for really special things to come to the market instead of buying a lot of miscellaneous bargains. This set is a good example of what I’m saying. I spent more on it than I normally spend on acquisitions, but it was such a great addition to my collection that I just could not resist.

Here are the first two pieces – a playsuit/bathing suit, and a rope belt. The neck with those fabulous nautical flags ties with the same rope as the belt. The belt buckle is plastic, and it is a small miracle that the thing has survived eighty something years.

I was hoping the flags spelled out a secret message, but I could not find a corresponding message for each flag.

This is also the case for the buckle, or at least I could not find it in any of the charts. Maybe I’m asking too much of an already fabulous article.

The pants could be added for a more covered up look. You might have expected the pants to be more like traditional sailor pants with the front flap and two rows of buttons, but the designer was too creative for that.

Instead she gave us one row of buttons on the side front, with a diagonal line to the crotch. You can’t tell from my photo but the opening actually drapes and overlaps an interior piece, and there are straps (barely visible on waistband) that wrap and button. It’s such a great design.

The last piece is a little red jacket, which by itself would look rather plain. But with the flags draped over the neckline and the belt buckle directly below, no other decoration was needed.

Unfortunately, the bathing suit is not in perfect condition. It obviously got much more wear than the other pieces, and there is an area of damage right on the front. When I received this the holes looked much worse, but I did a temporary repair in which I stitched the visible fabric to the lining.  In an interesting twist, I would never have been able to afford this had it been in perfect condition. The trick is to balance fabulousness and rarity with condition. The fact that there were four coordinating pieces really adds to the scarcity. I often see bits and pieces of former sets that have lost their mates. It’s sad, actually.

Can you tell this is a knit? It’s a very finely knit rayon and looks quite similar to the good nylons used by better lingerie companies starting in the late 1940s. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between knit rayon and the later nylon, and I’ve seen 1930s knit rayon mislabeled by sellers as nylon.

Dating was made easy due to the single label present. This is the label used when products were made in accordance with the National Recovery Act, or NRA. The act was instituted in 1933, but was found to be unconstitutional in 1935, so there is only a three year window in which items with the NRA eagle symbol could have been made.





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

24 responses to “1933 – 1935 Beach Ensemble

  1. Swooning over here. What this outfit needs is a proper yacht to back it up. How impossibly chic we’d look.


  2. seweverythingblog

    Great item! I wonder why the National Recovery Act was deemed unconstitutional. Google, here I come..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my gosh! This is the most fantastic set! Well worth the wait. I’m totally jealous, I’d love to have a set like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This piece is amazing. I would take the holes in the swimming suit for the perfection of everything else. You are such an inspirational collector. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. QueensGirl

    Wow, this ensemble is utterly spectacular, what a wonderful acquisition.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jacq staubs

    Looks like Claudette Colbert in Palm Beach Story ! WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Christina

    Wonderful suit!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so in love with that entire ensemble that I can’t stand it. WOW. Just. WOW!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alli Duncan

    One of the most fabulous outfits I have seen on your blog and I have loved lots of them previously! Amazing items that I never see in Australia. Alli, Canberra, Australia

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I instantly recognized this outfit because I had it on my wish list… I have learned the same as you – although it has taken a lifetime of learning to fully realize it — only get the good stuff!


  11. Well Lizzie, you have outdone yourself! It is an amazing outfit, but what put it above and beyond for me are those coordinated flags. Who needs a message when you have the flags themselves? It deserves a place of honor in the Bramlett Museum and Archive (BAM).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The deep red color is wonderful.


  13. Wow! What a stunning piece to add to your collection!! I love how it would fall into a novelty category with clothing, with all of those wonderful accents, but it’s over the top, and remains so classy!

    Like you, both my husband and I have been trying to focus on purchasing better, more unique pieces for our various collections. Like you said, sometimes it means spending more, but I find it’s always worth it when you find something so utterly unique.


  14. Pingback: 1934 Summer Fashions from Butterick Patterns | The Vintage Traveler

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