I’m beginning to think that Chicago was the gym attire capital of the US, as I’ve found another company that was located in that city. I knew about Perfetex because I have a pair of wool exercise bloomers with that label. It made me happy when earlier this week I located a catalog from the company. I bought it because I hoped to find my bloomers included (more about that later) but I found the catalog to be really interesting beyond my own collection.
The actual name of the firm that made Perfetex Athletic Clothing was Chancellor & Vaughan of Chicago. A note inside from the company president was signed C U Chancellor. Even with all that information, I was not able to find out anything about the company. That happens so often when a proper name is also a word with a meaning, such as “chancellor.”
In 1929, big changes where coming to women’s clothing. It wasn’t as sudden as history books sometimes make it seem, as there were hints that skirts were going to get longer, and clothing was going to be cut closer to the body. As for gym wear, for decades the bloomer had been the pants that girls and women wore for athletics. Above you can see the classic combination of middy blouse and baggy bloomers. The middy has short sleeves, and the bloomers are above the knee, but otherwise this is pretty much the same gym attire girls had been wearing for fifteen years.
But in 1929 the bloomer was slowly being replaced by shorts. In the outfit above, the blouse is still made of middy twill fabric, it has the pocket, and the V-neck. But gone is the flapping collar.
Taking it a stop further, here we see the shorts paired with a tee shirt made from jersey knit, which was available in either cotton or wool. Before long girls and women were wearing shorts for more than just basketball.
Click to enlarge
The middy was still pretty much the top of choice for gym. But it is interesting how in just a few years it would be pretty much gone, replaced by a gymsuit that was a blouse and shorts combination.
Prefetex was even selling a similar blouse in 1929. Just add the shorts and you have the new standard that replaced the middy and bloomers.
A while back I posted about a 1920s romper in my collection that is very similar to this one. It’s always good to find items documented with firm dating.
I’m doing a groan about the Barefoot Dancing Sandals though. I saw a pair of these somewhere online (probably eBay) described as bathing sandals, which I knew they were not. So I didn’t bid, and didn’t even bookmark the auction. Not good. Now I need them. Badly.
But getting back to my knickers, I am pretty sure that these are the ones I have. They are described as modern because so much of the fullness has been eliminated and they are shorter than the other knickers offered.
I am truly sorry about my sorry photos of these. I promise to take more time and do a better job. I hope you can tell that these are the same style.
Here’s the side opening with a placket covering the buttons.
The ad copy mentions a “diamond crotch piece.” I’d call it a gusset, and the purpose was to make the fabric “give” more in the area to reduce stress to the fabric. Note the mends on both sides of the diamond. it didn’t work.
To me, a lot of the fun of collecting comes from being able to identify garments like this pair of lowly bloomers. Simple pleasures!