Tag Archives: swim cap

Kleinert’s for 1961 Swim Caps – Beach Bags

I have always loved catalogs. I wasn’t too crazy about the Barbie I got for Christmas in 1962, but I loved that little catalog that came with it, the one showing her latest fashions. And the arrival of the yearly Sears Wish Book was a big event in the Adams household.

It amazes me that so many old catalogs have survived. Why would anyone keep a 1961 Kleinert’s swim cap catalog? After a season its usefulness is wiped out. When I was a kid, there were never stray catalogs nor newspapers nor magazines lying around. My mother kept a tight ship when it came to clutter, and her method of dealing with it was to get rid of it as soon as possible.

But I’m grateful for the savers – the people who didn’t mind a few old catalogs taking up space in their homes or business. The latest addition to my collection is a wholesale catalog. The shop owner chose what she or he thought would sell. The original owner of this catalog made notes in the margins such as, “Add 6 to order, natural only”.

An obvious benefit of having catalogs of the things one collects is that they help so much when trying to place a date on an object. I’m sure a lot of people must think that these fancy bathing caps disappeared at the end of the 1950s, but this catalog is full of them. The bathing cap covered with flowers must have been really popular because so many of them survive. Most are in bad shape. The caps tend to age quite well, but the attached flowers get all mashed out of shape when stored flat. I’ve even seen them melted and sticky.

The “Gamine” style is less common, but not really rare. I have one that is covered in shiny black “hair”.

I’d like to see someone with that much hair actually put that rubber cap on! That is a sweet cap though, with the braid trim and that flower on the back of the neck. And how about those rubber bangs on the Bouquet cap?

Here we are getting in rarer territory. I’ve never seen a gingham swim cap, not in reality nor in print. This gives me something to aspire to, preferably in turquoise.

But most of all, I need this Regatta swim cap in my life, along with the matching beach bag.

When I think of bathing caps, I think of old ladies round the pool in Florida. I must have gotten that from some movie I saw as a girl. My actual experience with bathing caps was short-lived. My local public pool and the summer camp I attended both required caps for girls, insisting that the long hair of girls got clogged in the filtration system. In the mid-1960s when boys started growing their hair longer, we girls rebelled, saying truthfully that many of the boys had longer hair than we did.

Of course, instead of making boys wear the caps, the rule for the girls was “forgotten”.

The catalog has much more than just swim caps. I think that this postcard beach tote is simply the best.

Some time ago a reader emailed a photo of one of these folding hats that she had. I’ll admit I was clueless about it, so seeing this one was a real treat, despite the very unfortunate name. I’ve forgotten who had this hat, but if you are still around and you still have it, I’m ready to buy!

And here’s a different take on the sunglasses hat. Again, this is a new one to me.

The catalog has several styles of hats that have an attached scarf to tie on the head. I have a fairly generic one that belonged to my mother-in-law, but how I’d love to have this one that just looks so Italian.



Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Novelty Bathing Caps – 1960s

One of the greatest things about studying fashion history is that there is always something new to discover. Just when you think you have seen it all from an era, something like the swim cap above pops into your etsy  suggestions. Yes, this is a bathing cap, made from acrylic yarn fused to a rubber base.

For those of you not around in the 1960s, bathing caps were on their way out, but archaic rules about women’s hair made them mandatory in many public pools. I can remember that my public pool had such a rule, but as men’s hair grew longer in the mid 60s, we began ignoring it. After all, many of the boys had hair longer than that of some girls. There was no big protest, but the caps quickly disappeared after about 1964.

I was hoping to find an ad for this pigtail cap, as there is a brand name – Cole of California – in the cap. Unfortunately, I came up empty, so I decided to think about style. When were pigtails fashionable? It seems odd that any adult would put little girl braids in her hair, but in the time of little girl looks, also known as the mid 1960s, pretty much anything youthful went. I wore my hair in pigtails, and not when I was seven. I was probably around twelve, now that I think about it.

So starting with the year 1967, the year I turned twelve, I did some research. To be honest, I spent a few pleasurable hours looking through 1967 and 68 Seventeen, Teen, and Glamour magazines. What I discovered was that 1967 does seem to be the year of the pigtail. I found examples in all three magazines, and the December, 1967 Glamour even had a young woman in pigtails on the cover. So I feel pretty confident in dating this cap to 1967.

Here is how the yarn is attached to the rubber. There are no stitches in the rubber. This is more like a rubber thread that is fused on the cap to hold the yarn in place.

Cole advertised in the major fashion magazines, so I’m holding out hope that original ad can be found.

The second cap is just as interesting, but in a more sophisticated manner. If you are one of those persons who feels naked when not wearing earrings, this is the cap for you.

I’ve seen swim caps that were molded to look like hair in catalogs and ads as far back as the 1930s. This one is newer, but when exactly? The biggest clues are the earrings. At first glance I’d be tempted to say 1970s, but by then the swim cap was pretty much over except in pools in retirement villages in Florida. So when were dangly earrings popular?

I found lots of long earrings around 1962 and 1963. Could that be when this cap was made? I’m not nearly as confident in dating this one.

Here’s a close-up of the earrings. The dangles are little fake coins. And look at how they are attached. It has to be some kind of miracle that this survived intact. I’m guessing that it wasn’t worn very much. Maybe it was just too outré.

Unfortunately there is no maker’s imprint. To be honest, this looks to me to be the type of thing that was advertised in the cheap ads in the backs of fashion magazines. Maybe this came from the swim cap equivalent of Frederick’s of Hollywood.

As always, your opinions are welcomed and appreciated.


Filed under Curiosities, Proper Clothing, Summer Sports

Ad Campaign – Howland Swim Caps, 1952

Soft, Lovely, Dry Hair Thanks to 

U.S. Howland Hair-Dry Swim Caps

1 Incurving V-Ribs keep water out!

2 Watertight suction band seals hair in!

3  Small, medium, and large sizes assure perfect fit.  Special size for children.

Swim and dive all you like, Howland protection stays with you.  Buy U.S. Howland Swim Caps wherever bathing accessories are sold – in Chartreuse, Red, Yellow, Blue, and White.

Note that the “in-curving ribs” are patented.  Whether or not the ribs actually worked is another matter, but  patents are good because patent numbers are often found inside swim caps  and are a useful tool in dating an otherwise tricky item.  Just remember that the date is not necessarily the date the item was made; it is the earliest possible date of manufacture.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertisements

Pink 1950s Jantzen Diving Belle

What the heck is a diving belle, you ask?  It was Jantzen’s name for their swim caps, a cutesy name if there ever was one.  Most of the ones I’ve seen show a real effort to pretty up what many consider to be an unflattering thing.  They added flowers and ruffles and bows and embossing.

The one I’m showing off today is a great example.  The attached rubber flowers detracted from the bald-look of a plain cap.  This type of decoration was common in the 1950s and 60s.

The big problem with many vintage swim caps with applied decoration is that the decorations are often in bad condition.  If exposure to saltwater and chlorine were not enough,  60 years of storage, often in hot attics or damp basements, was the destroyer of many rubber caps.

So, luckily for me, one of my favorite online sellers, Small Earth Vintage, recently listed this one on etsy.  From Karen’s photos I could tell that I’d finally found the excellent condition cap I’d been searching for, at a reasonable price.

I don’t shop a lot online, mainly because to me it is the actual hunt for vintage that is the most fun.  But  I love stumbling across something wonderful on etsy or on other websites, and if it is a seller I know and trust, I don’t hesitate to buy.

Those ridges are supposed to form a seal to keep water out.  They usually did not work very well.

Swim caps always look strange on mannequin heads because their ears do not flatten like a real person’s does.  That’s part of the reason swim caps are so uncomfortable; they scrunch in the ears.



Filed under Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Vintage Swim Cap Serendipity

To a vintage collector, one of the best things is finding an item in print, and then seeing the actual object.  In this case, it is a virtual seeing, but still it is enough to bring a smile.

I’ve been looking closely at swim or bathing caps, trying to find a few to match up with some bathing suits in my collection that are in need of the proper headwear.  In doing do I ran across a very nice cap on etsy – one that looked vaguely familiar.  In looking back at prior posts on swim caps, I realized where I’d seen it.

I posted this ad from U.S. Rubber last June.  It is from 1958, and says the following about the “lace” cap:

Look at the wonderful new things that have happened to swim caps… Chantilly Lace in new feather-light, divinely comfortable U.S. Aquafoam

Luckily for collectors today, the rubber makers kept trying to make an unattractive item look more desirable to women.  Their experimentation is our gain in the variety and novelty of the swim caps manufactured in the 1950s.  Thanks, U.S. Rubber!

And thanks to etsy seller IngridIceland for the use of her photos.


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Ad Campaign: Kleinert’s Sava-Wave, 1952

Only Kleinert’s SAVA-WAVE Swim Cap has the Magic Inner Rim!  Guaranteed to keep your hair dry

I get something on my mind, and it becomes the latest vintage obsession.  Lately it has been swim caps.  I have a few of them, but lately I’ve been looking to fill in a few gaps in my collection.  So expect to see more on this theme in the next few days.

 This week’s ad is from Kleinert’s, which specialized in rubber goods of all sorts.  Or I should say specialize, as they are still in business.   A couple of years ago I wrote a little history of the company.  You can read it, and view a 1930s Kleinert’s brochure, if you so wish.


Filed under Advertisements

Ad Campaign – 1958 Bathing Caps

Blossom out in flattering flowering Swim Caps by Kleinerts.  Cap your curls in these beauties and never worry your head about waves!  Hair stays dry for sure…

Look at the wonderful new things that have happened to swim caps.  Fabulous new textures… beautiful new designs… an array of colors to set the beach ablaze with a never before kind of swim cap flattery.

Two different ads with two different approaches to selling swim caps, but note how both use the word flatter, and both have cap-covered heads sticking out of the water.  Both ads appeared in the June, 1958 editions of American magazines.


Filed under Advertisements, Summer Sports