August meant back-to-school clothes, even in 1931. I was especially taken by this sleeveless gym suit:
The gym suit pattern is for ages 6 to 18, or for bust measurements 24″ to 44.” It buttons on the shoulders. I confess I can’t understand how you could step into it from the top, since the waist seems snugly fitted. The back view doesn’t seem to show an elastic casing. Those two front buttons must have had some function.
A gym suit like this also required shorter underwear than the just-above-the-knee bloomers worn in the 1920s.
Another pair of bloomers, pattern No. 4012, is even shorter, and has an elasticized waist. They are bloomers, rather than panties, because they are still gathered around each leg. The yoke in front keeps your tummy as flat as possible under 1930s yoked dresses, although I would not recommend wearing bloomers under a bias-cut satin dress!
The shoes illustrated with the gym suit and rolled socks are also interesting, since they appear to have a zipper closing.
In the 1920s, B.F. Goodrich made rubber overshoes which zipped up the front and gave us the word “zipper.” Perhaps Goodrich made rubber-soled gym shoes from a similar design? Keds have also been around since the 1910s.
The other back-to-school clothes pictured in the photo at the top of this post are for girls and teens:
On the left, Butterick pattern #4007: “White collar, white cuffs, a white leather or string belt, and a touch of white on the pockets will double the chic of a school-girl frock of simple lines. There is an inverted pleat at each side. Designed for sizes 14 to 20 [years] and 32 to 38 [inch bust.]”
Center, Butterick pattern #4023: “This Looks Two-Piece. It is the box pleated peplum that gives it that appearance. Frocks that button up close to the neck are very smart and detachable collars and cuffs are very practical for the school girl…. Frock designed for 26 to 33 (sizes 8 to 15.)
The box-pleated dress illustrated at top right, Butterick #4025, is made of navy blue wool, with a red patent leather belt keeping the pleats in place. It is worn with matching bloomers, so it has a close relationship to the uniforms worn by English schoolgirls. Designed for bust 24″ to 38″ (ages 6 to 20.)
The double-breasted coat at far right, Butterick pattern #4018, is also for girls 8 to 15, 26 to 33 [inches bust.] “A bright scarf is gay contrast.”
The lowered hem of the 1930s applied to adult women and teens, but not to little girls, who, from the 1800s onward, have worn shorter skirts until they were 16 or so.
The Vintage Traveler has written many interesting posts about vintage gym clothes, including the Evolution of the Gymsuit.
4 responses to “Back to School Gym Suit, August 1931”
Fascinating, as always. I hadn’t considered the differences in skirt lengths by age.
I’m puzzled by that gymsuit as well! I do have a similar pattern and when I have a chance, I’ll pull it out of the box and see how it works. I also have an early 30s gymsuit that looks just like that one, but it is two pieces.
Thanks, as always, for the link. I’d love to find a pair of those zippered sneakers!
I think of you whenever I see a pattern illustration for sportswear. I also love the way your posts about gymsuits awaken (usually painful)memories in so many women!
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