Wednesday, 15 June 2016

For basking on the beach - 1930's beachwear

Lately, in my spare time, I've been having a very happy sort through my vintage knitting magazines on the hunt for knitted swimwear. After looking at the Patons and Baldwin 1930's swimwear patterns I wanted to find out what I had in my own collection. I also wanted to look at them to decide which I will knit to take part in the Pretty Old Patterns swimsuit knit along. I found so many that were interesting, and worth sharing, that I thought I would take you on a tour of my swimsuit patterns, starting in the 1930's.

Most of these are from Stitchcraft, the rest are from Needlewoman.


This 'peach of a swim suit' pattern could be obtained by sending the top of a Lux packet and a stamp off to Port Sunlight. It is quite common to find these Lux adverts with free patterns in vintage knitting magazines. Stripes were 'tops' for beachwear in the summer of 1936 apparently.


Also in June 1936 is this advert for P&B knitting wools featuring a rather fetching green and white diagonal striped bathing suit.


From June 1937 we have this halter neck swimsuit 'sea bathe'.


We can see more detail here, including the fine rib around the waist for shape and stability. The child is wearing a sunsuit with a sailing boat trim.


Here it is in close up, I think it looks smart on the two tone stripe background.

The same pattern spread also included these men's trunks, in four sizes.


'Fore'.


'Aft'

No words!


This is one of the most elegant, glamorous and covetable pieces of vintage beachwear that I have ever seen so I had to include it. From May 1939, it is a linen tweed beach coat, lined in green terry towelling, made from a Vogue pattern. I would love to wear this whilst paddling this summer!


Here is another Lux advert from June 1939 featuring a 'smart knitted play suit'. The 'snappy little shorts are very practical because you can wear them with a pullover or shirt whilst playing games'. Styling tips too!


'For basking on the beach'. August 1937.


'Checks are good for beach wear' This is a 'novel' tunic frock in crochet. I haven't come across a pattern like this before. I think it is rather fabulous.


This bathing suit has a trunk style bottom and then a button through detachable skirt to go over the top. It is from July 1938 and I really like it, so very versatile!


Although this is a sun top rather than a swimsuit I wanted to include it as it is such a jolly ensemble and you can make 3 of the pieces of this outfit. 


The sun top is backless and made of crochet fabric. A wide band goes around the chest and a narrower band forms a belt that buckles at the side.


It is also possible to make the beach bag and the sandals. Apparently these are the 'most comfortable beach shoes imaginable'! The crochet tops would be attached to either rubber or rope soles, with or without heels.


Another Lux advert, this is a hooded, wide sleeved wrap inspired by an Arabian garment. It is designed to stop the wearer from getting sunburn and to keep them warm when the wind blows. Lux also suggest that it may be worn as a dressing gown once the summer is over!

Lastly, from July 1931, we have a truly incredible beach outfit.


Oh yes! This bathing wrap was made from a Vogue pattern in raspberry colour towelling. The pattern also includes a swimsuit, in fine navy blue jersey, and a divided skirt. The wrap could also be used as a skirt. The embroidery is worked in pink. The fish are cut out of bright green gingham and then appliquéd to the wrap. I so wish there were colour pictures.



That year 'large aquatic motifs are favoured for beach attire, such as fish, seaweed, boat scenes and golden landscapes. What a glorious opportunity for riotous embroideries'.


Here is the fabulous fish.



The ensemble is finished with straw picture hats which have been embroidered with zigzags, the fish and thistles. Fish for beachwear I understand, thistles not so much. However, the whole outfit is just marvellous.

So, that was a quick trip through 1930's beachwear. The 1940's and 1950's are coming up next.

19 comments:

  1. Kate-Em, all of these are fabulous. I can't wait to see what you attempt! Still, that beach coat. I feel you would get a lot of stares wearing it to the beach, but how stunning!

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    1. Thanks Tanith. I think I have almost chosen my pattern! If I had that coat I would wear it!!

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  2. I'd never wear a knitted swimsuit, but that beach robe is splendid. I look forward to seeing what you make.

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    1. Thanks Mim. I'm not sure I would wear one either but I really want to see what one is like.

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  3. Fabulous stuff. I love the optimism that British beaches and lidos could be so glamorous. Somewhere I have a 1930s pattern for beach/swimming shoes that were used for sea bathing on pebble beaches. Must hunt it out and see if I can make a pair for my swimsuit :)

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    1. I know what you mean, I assume they still had as much rain as we do now! It would be great to have a pair of beach shoes to go with your swimsuit. Exciting!

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  4. I really love the beach wear of this era. Id adore a 30s suit but Im not really sure about knitted swim wear so I went with a 50s style suit. I do have a 1930s or 40s terry beach cape that is aprized possesion of mine.

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    1. That terry beach cape sounds lovely. I would love to have that fish one!

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  5. You're actually going to make one?! That's so cool, I can't wait to see how it turns out! I think my favorite is the one with the button through skirt, it's super cute.

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    1. I am at least going to attempt to make one Jessica! I really like the one with the added skirt too.

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  6. I want them all (again)!! These are so amazing and it's so hard to choose a favourite. I love the simple dark coloured one with detachable skirt and that gorgeous green sun top. However, I'm not sure I'd want all of those fish motifs on an entire ensemble! xx

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    1. The sun top is really super isn't it and it is very wearable! I want them all too, though maybe not for swimming in.

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  7. hello,ciao...nice post...vintage swimsuits are so chic!...and knitted swimsuit are cool!
    best

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    1. Thanks Aure. Great aren't they?!

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  8. "No words" seconded to the nth degree! That is one beguiling gorgeous beach ensemble if ever there was.

    This is such a fun, swoon worthy post, sweet Kate. Thank you very much for brightening our spring-into-summer days with these awesome thirties beach fashions.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Jessica. I feel I need to really up my game on my beach look this year!

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  9. Oh my goodness! WOW!! want every single outfit. Fantastic post with such amazing inspiration.

    Liz

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    1. Thanks Liz. I want them all too!

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