1930s Kit Klein Snow Suit

I had never heard of skater Kit Klein, but after I spotted this suit for sale, I went on a search for information about her. As it turns out, Kit was a speed skater, and a very good one at that. She won gold at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics in the 1500 speed skate, and she won the All Around Womwn’s Speed Skating World Championship in 1936. Both events were more spectacle than official. Maybe that’s why she isn’t widely remembered.

But in the 1930s she was famous enough to have a deal with a clothing manufacturer who produced winter sports attire. Lots of online searching has produced nothing about the line. There is quite a bit from 1930s newspapers about Kit though. Seems like there was a minor scandal when she announced her engagement without mentioning that she was already married. But it worked out in the end.

I already had an early1940s ski suit with the Sonja Henie label. Sonja and Klein were contemporaries, but today Sonja is still well-known. Is it because she competed in the more feminine figure skating, or maybe it was her movie and Ice Revue career? At any rate, Sonja’s endorsement deals included ice skating dresses, wool gloves and hats, and dolls. She became a very rich woman.

I love all the details on this suit. There are two zippered pockets on the jacket.

The pants have a side-buttoning closure with two buckles.

There are nice plastic buttons on the jacket, including ones that allow for tightening the sleeves.

If you are a close observer of the photo, you probably noticed something else about the jacket, a nasty surprise that was not fully disclosed in the seller’s description.

Yes, moth holes. Dozens of them. The seller took a somewhat lackadaisical approach to my complaint, which is really the worst kind of attitude. But one thing I have noted about one type of seller, and that is that damage is no big deal. In fact, it’s seen as the clothing having lived a life, and now the buyer gets to share that history.

I really don’t mind a small bit of damage or wear. My Edwardian motoring coat has a grease stain. A favorite 1930s tropical print bathing suit coverup is slightly faded. Most of my wool sweaters have a moth nibble or two. But this is damage on a different level.

Still, I did decide to keep this suit. The story behind the label is just so very interesting. So now the suit is wrapped in plastic and resides in my freezer, though one person has suggested that I also bake it on low heat just to make sure there are no remaining live bugs. It’s a hassle I didn’t sign up for, but sometimes we are handed challenges in life. I think I’m up to it.


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8 responses to “1930s Kit Klein Snow Suit

  1. Karen Binsfeld

    The story of Kit Klein is very interesting. I think that’s a real treasure to have! One of the reasons I signed up for your emails, is because I have two vintage skirt and sweater sets, that I’ve been trying to find a buyer for. One person passed on it, the other one has not re-contacted me to come look at it. In the meantime they’re sitting in a bag in my bedroom waiting to be discovered by somebody who likes these types of clothing! I also have a sailor suit, that a friend told me that they used to make sailor suits for the little boys and girls when they wanted to emulate the people in the military during the wars. Also have a suit and all in white which might also be another sailor suit. Is this some items you would like to see? I can send you pictures.


  2. jacq.staubss@yahoo.com

    Nothing “cold as ice” about these/those two girls? I agree with you – the label is worth more than the garment. That was the only reason for original purchase.Fashion had nothing to do with it! The bug bites say it all. Great looking suit – the plastic buttons and buckles are interesting and practical.On second thought – those girls could melt ice!


  3. Very interesting story about Kit.Vintage without some flaws is also acceptable to me as along as it is disclosed in the description of the item. Most of my Pucci collection have flaws and that is fine with me.


  4. “Kit Klein, Girl Skater” sounds like the heroine of a series of mysteries. I think it’s a great addition to your collection!


  5. Those zippered pocket would have been pretty high-tech at the time, right?

    Also, the lack of disclosure about moth damage is infuriating.


  6. That is a very fine looking suit. I would wear it today!

    Pity about the moth damage, and boo to that seller!


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