I love finding pieces from the great 20th century sportswear companies. By the late 1940s many companies that had been only making swimwear or active sportswear turned to making sports separates that were suited for the increasingly casual lifestyle of Westerners. Jantzen was one such company.
What is designed to look like two pieces is actually one. The cotton corduroy collar and upper bodice is attached to the cotton jersey shirt, using a color scheme that was a popular one in the 1950s.
The label was used in the late 1940s and into the 50s. There were quite a few variations of this label with that fluid frame around the brand name. By the late 50s the frame was gone, and increasingly the name “Jantzen” was woven in gold instead of red.
This seems to a a pretty straight-forward piece, but I thought it odd that the label appears to be in the front of the shirt. Could it be that the collar closes in the back?
I turned it around to see if the collar actually had a rolled front, but it just looked odd. So I held the top by the shoulder seams to see how the shoulder and the collar were positioned on both sides. In most garments the back neck edge is smaller than the front. In this case, it put the opening in the front.
I think my original mistake was thinking that the collar would have been worn open. After playing with it for a while it became clear that this was meant to be a closed collar top. Still, it is a bit unusual to see a label in the front of a garment.
I have not been able to find advertising for this top, but my guess is that it dates between 1952 and 1955. Dolman sleeves, which were cut in one piece with the bodice, were very popular during those years.
Of course the real fun will come when I find the matching pants or skirt. I’m sure that matching pieces were made because that was how these pieces were marketed – as mix and match separates.