Tag Archives: thirties sportswear

Ski Suits in the Stores, 1930s

Illustration from Woman's Home Companion, February 1937

Illustration from Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937

While winter sports are in the news — and California finally has some snow in spite of drought conditions — here are two skiing outfits that could be bought in the late 1930s. Both were featured in “Styles in Stores” articles in Woman’s Home Companion magazine.

Woman’s Ski Suit,  January 1936

1936 Ski Suit Featured in January Woman's Home Companion

1936 Ski Suit Featured in January Woman’s Home Companion

Tyrolean styles were quite popular in the late thirties, until World War II and Hitler’s invasion of Austria. The H. W. Capwell store in Oakland, CA, merged with San Francisco’s Emporium store in 1924, but continued to operate separately at the Oakland location.

Woman’s Ski Suit, December 1937

Ski Suit Featured in Woman's Home Companion, December 1937

Ski Suit Featured in Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937

“The ski costume, complete from hat to socks, would delight any girl with winter sports in mind.  Look at the hat. It is the new yodeler type with sun-defying brim.  Examine the jacket and you will see that it is closed with a slide fastener [i. e., what we call a ‘zipper’ — w2f] and has handy diagonal pockets.  Note the slim cut of the trousers, the gay embroidery on the mittens.  These are the important details which lead up to these two main points:  the fact that the material of the trousers, jacket and hat is a water-repellent woolen,  and the fact that you have a choice of two good snow colors, navy with touches of contrasting red, or deep green with gray. John Wanamaker, New York.” — Ethel Holland Little, Fashion Editor, Woman’s Home Companion

The slide fastener had been used in flying suits since World War I, and in men’s sportswear (and women’s rain boots called “Zippers” by B.F. Goodrich Co.), but slide fasteners were not as common in women’s sportswear. However, dresses became more fitted through the waist after 1930, and by 1936 several couturiers were using them. (Charles James made a dress with a long zipper that spiraled around it in 1929! His work was featured in an Exhibition at the Chicago Museum in 2012. Images of his work can be found at this link.)

This post is dedicated to The Vintage Traveler, who writes often and well about the history of women’s sportswear  — and zippers — among other things.

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Filed under 1930s, Exhibitions & Museums, Sportswear, Women in Trousers