1930s Collegiate Print Beach Pajamas

Beach pajamas are one of my favorite historic clothing items. They were in vogue for about fifteen years, during which time the concept went through several changes. Much of my interest stems from this garment’s role in making wearing pants in public by women acceptable. Much of my summer has been spent on gathering information, and then writing a paper on the evolution of pajamas on the beach. I’ll be sharing my paper in the future, first hopefully at my regional Costume Society of America symposium, and then here on my blog.

I already had several pairs of really great pajamas in my collection. I have told myself that I did not need any more, so I’ve not been tempted by any I have seen for sale in a while. But I had always wanted this particular pair, with the college pennant design. I felt like this design had been commercially produced because I had seen at least two examples of it.

When my friend Erika who posts as Cattybritches on Instagram posted a photo of this pair she spotted in an antique mall up her way, I was hoping she would be able to retrieve them for me. She was, and this week they arrived in my mailbox. In the collecting business, it really does pay to have friends!

The brand is Sas See Maids. As you can see on the label, they made dresses, smocks, and Hoovers (which was a wrap housedress) as well as pajamas. Note the line, “Made for the best retail trade”.

To put it into perspective, this ad shows these cost just 33 cents, and were found in the bargain basement. For those of you not old enough to have experienced a true bargain basement, my sympathies are with you. Even into the early 1970s the basement in Ivey’s in Asheville was a bargain hunter’s dream. I would spend hours there treasure hunting.

My exact pajamas are not in the ad, but it does mention the college pennant fabric. Best of all, it mentions a beach coat with trim. Dare I dream?

The ad and the newspaper clipping above came from Michelle of Wide Awake Vintage. Yet again, it pays to have friends with similar interests.

The low V neck in both front was back and the extra wide legs put this garment in the 1930 -1934 range. The low back developed about at the same time as low backed evening gowns and low backed bathing suits. The object was to acquire and then show off a suntan.

I hope you noticed the hat, because it is partly why I wanted this set so much. After examining it, I don’t believe it was commercially made. The seams are a bit too irregular, and the finishing is poor. The pajamas fit a person about five feet tall, so it’s possible these were shortened, and the excess used to make the hat. Or I could be wrong. Maybe another hat will materialize and prove me wrong.

15 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

15 responses to “1930s Collegiate Print Beach Pajamas

  1. jacq staubs

    Wonderful photos! Yes-the hat! Millinery is ( as you know) is an interesting part of the fashion world. The woven cartwheel style in the photo especially to me is particularly. There was a milliner – I J Herman – in NYC / an importer who i l knew that “educated” me on the manufacturing / provenance of (many years ago)while i was in merchandising. He would “custom” anything you wanted. I love the Trellis print P J ‘s . Thank you!

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  2. Fabulous fabric! Clever of you to realize it was old, because it’s so fresh and vivid. That newpaper photo is such great provenance. May your finds and your friends always be so wonderful.

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  3. What a fabulous score! You’re indeed lucky to have friends like those you mention here. Meanwhile, did you see that the newspaper provides the street address of the woman wearing the pennant pjs?

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  4. Carol Wilson

    Fabulous find. I am intrigued that these pyjamas are so similar to the one-piece lounging outfits I see today, at Walmart and the dollar stores, so fitting into a similar very low price point. I have bought several. Part of the book you could write about pajamas would be on the evolution of that word! Thank you again for your wonderful blog.

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  5. Well, at that price maybe the woman bought two and cut up the second pair for a hat! I’m really looking forward to your article.

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  6. This is an absolute gem!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had never seen or heard the term beach pijama, i think this garment is formidable. I am looking forward to reading your paper.

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