Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jantzen Sportswear (1958-1960)

Good morning!

After the startling realism of Catalina's catalog swimsuit models, I thought you might like to take a look at a more idealized vision of mid-century sportswear in our continuing inquiry into vacation fashion. Like Catalina, Jantzen sportswear is still in business after all these years, and you can see a really neat timeline of different bathing suit fads and fashions the company was obliged to follow since its inception in the 1910's. Me, I'm only interested in one thing...the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. Show me the good stuff!

When I figure out how to wear a bathing cap in a way that DOESN'T
make me look like Daddy Warbucks, I'll let you know.
Perusing Life magazine ads from 1950-1965, you can see the evolution of Jantzen ads from featuring sexy, kittenish illustrated girls with cats' eye eyeliner to the soignée creatures that appear in their late fifties' and early sixties' ads. As many women-oriented ads of the time period, Jantzen goes for the insecurity vs. security angle."All Girls are Gorgeous in a Jantzen" and "Jantzen: the Look a Man Likes" gave way in 1958 to the tagline "Jantzen: If You Care How You Look in a Swimsuit"! I find this to be the gun-to-head of marketing tactics. Of course I care what I....!! How dare you say if I don't do "x", I'll be "y"....!! Etc, etc. Still, the glamor ante of the Vogue-like illustrations, when compared with their earlier fifties', pin-up counterparts, is considerably upped.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Unisex multi-color-piping capris. It's France! Why not!

Besides the beautiful fashion illustrations, another touch of glitz and intrigue is dashed on with the Pan American Jet Clipper shout-out in the bottom of each illustration. Because, really, are you going to make it out to Portofino or Monaco to show off your new Jantzen togs in coach, on a non-jet? The clever "626 minutes to Paris via Pan American Jet Clipper...2 minutes to Global Glamour Via Jantzen" line at the bottom is such a cute little kicker.

You can see a video of the rollout campaign for the 1958 Pan Am Jet Clipper here.


So Mad Men (when it was good)!

The following two ads kind of lost me on the international intrigue level. Because, really, who wants to travel to London or Paris or Rome en famille in a thematically matching gingham? Also, how embarrassing would it be to arrive on the beach in your new Jantzen "shapewear" swimsuit, only to find than an entire American family was dressed in the exact same pattern? Still, the little pin-tucked x on the front of the girl's bathing suit is totally cute.

What did the little boy say that's making everyone look at him like that?
 Again with the matching! The husband's outfit looks WAY TOO MUCH like the wife's outfit! One of us needs to wear this look at a time, and I'm not the one changing, says the lady with her perfect Clara Bow-ish bob. Even the little girl's doll has a Jantzen tartan print outfit. It's like Body Snatcher Beach Bingo! In the previous two ads, the people in the illustrations more coordinated than wore-the-exact-same-thing.

Doesn't this next beach look resemble something you would see in Martha Stewart Living this very month? The whole look is so classic, and though I wouldn't have thought of white, black, and red stripes outside of sporting event related clothes, see how fresh and summery they look in spite of my fashion short sightedness!

Last but not least, a return to thirties' fashion twenty years after the fact with the belted onesie swim suit on the right. I think it's adorable! Reminds me of La Crawford (what doesn't?). I also welcome the idea of how to properly tie a black chiffon scarf around one's ponytail. How chic she looks in her sunglasses with the scarf, and later probably the hat at stage right!

Do you save your best clothes for vacation or are you more likely to dress comfortably because you know you'll be stuck in a hot car for hours on end?  How I wish we could take a Pan Am jet to NOLA! Or anywhere, for that matter. Which Jantzen vacation look is your favorite?

Have a great Thursday, I'll see you tomorrow!


  1. These illustrations are beautiful!!! I'm going to start taking art classes right now! Okay, I'll start as soon as I'm done making my family matching Bermuda shorts.

  2. Oh, loved the YouTube video clip! It stirs an emptiness not only for the dayReid yore, but not having the ABC show "Pan Am" to return to in the fall.

    1. Days of yore, not dayReid. iPads and I are not always in the same hemisphere.



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