bathing costume & swimsuit


bathing costume & swimsuit



Apple green wool bathing costume by Jantzen. Heavy one-piece suit, machine knitted in stocking stitch. Straight-cut top reaches crotch and inside this from waist is stitched a pair a shorts. Top has cut away armholes and neck leaving narrow shoulder straps, no bust shaping. Woman diver logo at left hip, woven in pink, red and black, with "Jantzen" woven into diver's costume. Back is plain with very low neckline. Shorts have short leg pieces and an oval-shaped gore at gusset. Inside: all seams overlocked; one self-fabric (28cm) cord inserted at upper front armhole each side, possibly to prevent costume from slipping.

Display Label

From the 1920s, simple all-in-one swimsuits in clinging machine-knitted wool jersey became fashionable, and were retailed by specialist firms such as Jantzen and Bukta. Stylised female figures in stylish swimming costumes were also used to decorate or advertise products by connecting them to healthy leisure pursuits, and the outdoor life (see the fan below). The first 2-piece swimsuits or "bikinis" revealing a bare midriff were worn from the late 1930s, although the term "bikini" was not used until after the war in the late 1940s. By the 1950s and 1960s, the fabric used for swimwear increasingly reflected mainstream fashion and costumes became more daring and vibrant, so that even a swimsuit from M&S would be made in a dramatic psychedelic print to attract the youth culture. By the mid-1960s more and more bare flesh was exposed, and women's swimwear could be very revealing. Avant guarde designers like Rudi Gernreich produced ever bolder styles which were featured in fashion magazines, notably his outrageous topless "Mono-kini" of 1964. Later designs included one-piece suits with bold, geometric cut-outs, revealing much of the wearer's body, and asserting that the body should be flaunted, not carefully covered up.

Object Name

bathing costume & swimsuit

Creators Name


Date Created



Length: 80cm
Width (max): 38cm

accession number


Place of creation

United Kingdom



© Manchester Art Gallery

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