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Women's three-piece display bathing costume

Date: early 20th Century
Overall: 730 x 300 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00045210
Place Manufactured:Parramatta

User Terms

    These red and white hounds-tooth print cotton bloomers formed part of a matching three piece Princess suit. The knee length design features an elastic waist and knee bands, with black and white ric rac trim on the gathered cuffs.
    SignificanceThis garment reflects the changing design trends in early 20th century swimwear, signaling the transition from the elaborate bathing costumes of the 1910s to the more streamlined designs of the 1920s.

    The swimsuit was previously owned by Jantzen Australia, and was most likely used in fashion parades and window displays. It was later used by David Williams and Chin Yu in musical theatrical productions in the 1970s.
    HistoryThe Princess suit of the 1900s and 1910s consisted of a short skirted dress worn over matching bloomers, often worn with stockings, lace up boots and a fabric bathing cap. The shorter sleeves and button-up back created a more modern look. This, together with their wider availability through clothing and department stores, encouraged their popularity. Though the knee length skirt allowed greater freedom of movement in the water, the design's fitted waistband and seams were still restrictive.

    Jantzen did not begin producing its knitted costumes until the late 1910s, missing the era of the Princess suit. This suggests that the company either reproduced a light cotton version of the Princess design, or applied their 1920s fabric logo to an earlier garment.

    It was not uncommon for items of swimwear to be made for theatrical or promotional purposes such as fashion parades and window displays. These garments were followed the cut of traditional swimwear designs, but were made from lighter fabrics such as cotton as they were not intended for getting wet.

    Related People
    Maker: Jantzen

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