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Jantzen Diving Girl logo reproduced courtesy of Skye Group

Women's Jantzen swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Overall: 670 x 395 mm, 0.4 kg
Clothing size: 42
Medium: Terry toweling, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Jantzen Diving Girl logo Skye Group
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00028373
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    This blue terry toweling one piece swimsuit was made by in Australia by Jantzen in the 1930s. It has a low scooped back, a cross 'v' panel neck line and a half skirt for modesty and features adjustable shoulder straps with white enameled metal clasps in the shape of bows. Its flattering shape has been created with molded cups, darts and vertical panels.

    SignificanceThe swimsuit is representative of women's swimwear made in Australia during the 1930s. Its unusual use of terry toweling, shows the experimentation with different textiles in the design and production of swimwear at the time.
    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 sleek 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 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 reflected in 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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