I’ve been collecting gym attire for a long time, and I’m glad because several years ago the prices went crazy. The first ones I acquired in the 1990s were actually given to me because they were pretty much unsalable. But in spite of generations of girls despising the gymsuits they were forced to wear, the gymsuit-less generations have decided they are cool. I’m okay with that, because I can already see the prices falling. Seems like a garment that almost every girl who went to high school and college between 1920 and 1975 had would mean there are still millions of the things out there. The supply is starting to catch up with the demand.
I already have eighteen sets, dating from the 1860s to the mid 1970s. Ironically (or maybe not), the one era I don’t have is a late 60s model like I was forced to wear. Maybe it’s time to start looking for a cheap suit. Maybe not.
I spotted this dress and bloomers set on Instagram last week and decided to add it to my collection. I was intrigued by the fact it is knit. I had seen the style before. Someone had the same dress in yellow a few years ago, but there were no bloomers. And recently someone had a similar style in blue. Seems like it had long sleeves.
Aldrich and Aldrich was a large maker of gymsuits. I have one of their catalogs, dating from 1940 where they were celebrating twenty years in the business.
Of course I was hoping to find my new set in the catalog, but the closest I found was the leotard and skirt set above. Notice the similarity in the neckline.
Best of all, the catalog gives an explanation of the use of this knit set. It was used for dance class. But when? I am quite sure it was around the time of the illustrated set in the catalog.
One reason I am so sure is that in a very good stroke of luck, the seller, @fleabitevintage was able to provide me with details about the life of the original owner, Eleanor, who was born in 1923. The set is small, but not tiny, so my guess is that she wore it between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two. So, this one gets a general date of late 1930s or early 40s.
The matching bloomers or panties are not attached to the dress. The waistline is quite high so no skin would show if the skirt flipped up.
I love that neckline.
And if anyone runs across an ugly white dacron snap-front gymsuit from 1967, give me a shout.