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Child's beach coat

Date: Late 1950s
Dimensions:
Overall: 540 x 600 mm
Medium: Terry towelling, plastic button
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Caroline Whitley
Object Name: Beach coat
Object No: 00054264
Related Place:Hurstville,

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    Description
    This commercially-manufactured girl's one-piece swimsuit and hand-made child's beach coat are rare examples of children's and young adults' swimwear and beachwear from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Few examples survive from this period since they were often either handed down to younger siblings or were simply worn out.
    SignificanceThis girl's one-piece swimsuit and child's beach coat are rare examples of children's and young adults' swimwear and beachwear from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Few examples survive from this period since they were often either handed down to younger siblings or were simply worn out.
    HistoryChildren's and young adults' swimwear and beachwear of the 1950s and 1960s followed men's and women's fashions of the period. The trends leaned towards the functional, streamlined and stylish. The 1950s and 1960s were a transitional period for swimwear, with swimsuits ranging from the modest cover-all styles, to more flattering body-hugging silhouettes that were influenced by popular trends, designs and colours of the time. Over the course of the early- to mid-20th century, swimsuits underwent significant transformations in line with developments in lifestyle and popular trends. By the 1950s and 1960s, swimwear became more comfortable and practical in design and manufacture. This was in line with the influence of modernism which made an impact on Australian fine art, sculpture, photography and architecture, inevitably having a flow-on effect to fashions for men, women and children.

    The fashion trends also adopted modern developments in manufacturing technologies such as the creation of more practical and lightweight fabrics. Machine-knitted material such as cotton and also synthetics like bri-nylon were much more comfortable for wearers than the heavy woollen swimwear of previous decades. They allowed children to run and jump around on land and in sea with freedom, showing a growing recognition of the importance of play in children's development and the freedom of movement required for such activities. Despite the increasing rate in commercial manufacture of clothing during this period, it was not uncommon for some articles of children's wear to still be hand-made at home by relatives. The beach coat is an example of this tradition.




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