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Jantzen Diving Girl logo reproduced courtesy of Skye Group

Women's woollen Jantzen swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Overall: 730 x 280 mm, 0.4 lb. (0.18 kg)
Clothing size: 36
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Jantzen Diving Girl logo Skye Group
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00039519

User Terms

    This 1930s knitted woollen swimsuit reflects the emerging aesthetic of a functional, sleek and streamlined body. Made in South Australia, it features a scooped neck and a full skirt for modesty.

    SignificanceThis is a rare example of a 1930s woollen jersey knit swimsuit.
    HistoryThe 1930s saw both men and women revealing more of the body, which was a trend encouraged by the new craze for sun bathing. Men finally went topless, wearing swimming trunks and belted wool knit shorts with a half skirt for modesty. Women's swimsuits went backless, and were often accessorised with coloured rubber swimming caps to complete the streamlined look of the outfit.

    Knitted one piece close fitting swimsuits, known as maillots, defined the 1930s fashion for women's swimwear. Their design, often featuring a scooping back, followed the trend of women's evening dresses of the period. The look was simple and elegant, creating soft curves that contoured the body. Attention was drawn to the back by the use of different types of shoulder straps such as halter-necks, cross straps and cutaway straps. The French designer Elsa Schiaparelli patented a backless maillot with a built in bra to promote strap-free tanning.

    The new body shape promoted during this period reflected changes in the political climate of the time, with the growing emancipation of women in the home and at work. Such changes were communicated through swimwear fashion, however it was not until the end of the 1930s that the maillot was generally accepted into public view. Significantly, the incorporation of the full skirt and high neckline in the Jantzen swimsuit ensured a certain amount of modesty for the wearer.

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    Maker: Jantzen

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