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Jantzen Diving Girl logo reproduced courtesy of Skye Group

Women's Jantzen swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Display dimensions: 680 x 260 mm, 22 g
Clothing size: 34
Medium: Lastex
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Jantzen Diving Girl logo Skye Group
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00044250

User Terms

    Manufactured in the USA by Jantzen in the 1930s, this woman's Lastex swimsuit incorporates a cross-over bodice, central waist panel, low scooped back with a cord tie and full skirt for modesty. The swimsuit features the diving girl logo used by Jantzen from 1928.

    SignificanceThe swimsuit is representative of swimsuit styles prominent during the 1930s. It is also an important example of the use of new textile technologies during the early 20th century.
    HistoryThe 1930s saw both men and women revealing more of the body, which was a trend encouraged by the new craze for sun bathing. The body's aesthetic was functional, sleek and streamlined. 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 1930's 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 maillot's development was influenced by the revolutionary development of Lastex in 1931. Introduced into America and elsewhere in a variety of versions by companies such as Jantzen, Cole of California and Catalina, the yarn has an elastic core wound around with cotton, silk, rayon or nylon threads. The use of other recently developed textiles, such as shirred cotton fabric, gave a figure-hugging silhouette to women's swimwear.

    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 skirt and high neckline in the Jantzen swimsuit ensured a certain amount of modesty for the wearer.
    Related People
    Maker: Jantzen

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