Cherry red knit wool bathing suit, c. 1949, labeled Jantzen and sold at Alta Cunningham’s shop for ladies’ fine clothing at 104 Trade Street in downtown Greer, SC. It is a two-piece puckered knit suit with ties at the waist and bodice back. It was worn by Greenville resident Audrey Nash Jordan (1921-2005).

In the 1920s and 1930s, attitudes toward sun exposure were changing. Women no longer wanted the pale, delicate look and now eagerly sought a sun tan and healthy glow. Swim suits quickly reacted to that change. In the 1940s the two-piece bare-midriff suit with skirt panel over tight shorts was popular. The more extreme bikini, introduced in France, 1946, was not generally adopted by American women until some years later.

While this suit was manufactured by bathing suit giant Jantzen, home knitters could create their own bathing suit like the one pictured in the Woman’s Day 1949 Knitting Annual. Click for a printable PDF of the pattern. It is knitted in two pieces using the relatively new Lastex yarn, made with a core of rubber for elasticity.


TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday