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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Fashion, Room 40

Bathing Costume

1937 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This machine-knitted woollen swimsuit dates from the 1930s, the decade that advocated outdoor activities for physical fitness. At that time wool was thought to be a suitable material for close-fitting garments like swimwear because of its elastic qualities. The disadvantage was that it became heavy when waterlogged.

This one-piece bathing suit has an aerodynamic (and slimming) navy side stripe. It is made in stocking stitch with a ribbed waist panel for extra shaping and support. The straps cross over the fashionable low-cut back and through two loops at the front. The owner bought it from the French department store Galeries Lafayette in Regent Street, London.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Machine-knitted wool
Brief Description
One-piece bathing costume of machine-knitted wool, made by Neyret, Paris, retailed by Galeries Lafayette, London, 1937
Physical Description
Bathing costume made of machine-knitted wool. Made in one-piece. White with a navy stripe down both sides. The straps cross over at the low cut back and through two chrome D loops at the front. Unlined. Made in stocking stitch with a ribbed waist panel. The bust is fashioned.
Dimensions
  • Top of bust to leg length: 61cm
  • Across waist width: 23.5cm
Tension: 8.5 stitches per inch 3.5 stiches per cm
Object history
RF 71/920

Group of beachwear (T.292 to 301-1971) bought at a Christies auction in April 1971. Although sold as belonging to an anonymous lady, these pieces were owned and worn by Vera, Lady Swettenham, who married Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham (1850-1946) in 1939 after his divorce from his first wife of 60 years.



The Swettenham property lists identify this piece as having originally been purchased from the Galleries Lafayette on Regent Street, London, at a cost of £5.12.6
Summary
This machine-knitted woollen swimsuit dates from the 1930s, the decade that advocated outdoor activities for physical fitness. At that time wool was thought to be a suitable material for close-fitting garments like swimwear because of its elastic qualities. The disadvantage was that it became heavy when waterlogged.



This one-piece bathing suit has an aerodynamic (and slimming) navy side stripe. It is made in stocking stitch with a ribbed waist panel for extra shaping and support. The straps cross over the fashionable low-cut back and through two loops at the front. The owner bought it from the French department store Galeries Lafayette in Regent Street, London.
Collection
Accession Number
T.293-1971

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record createdJanuary 6, 2005
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