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1940s Fashion: The Playsuit, Fun and Fashionable

Updated on October 29, 2014

As summer draws ever closer, I find myself longing for clothes that no longer exist. Last year, we saw the revival of the romper. You know a shorts jumpsuit that you cannot answer the call of nature in without dragging the top half on the public restroom floor or having to disrobe completely? Not to mention the only people it looks good on is toddlers and 7-foot tall supermodels.

Sure, fashion designers can bring that back, but not the fashionable, comfortable playsuit!

What the heck is a playsuit?

The playsuit debuted in 1940 and commonly consisted of a bra top, blouse, shorts and skirt. The bra top and shorts could be worn to play sports like tennis and badminton, or for lounging in the sun at the beach or poolside. Once these activities were complete, the proper lady would put her blouse and her skirt on over the shorts and bra top. Genius! Some came as a one-piece and were mainly worn at the beach.

Where to Buy a Playsuit

If you would like to purchase a play suit, it will not be easy. Some diligent searching of the internet will turn up some available vintage play suits and a few reproductions. What most companies really offer is a rompers, or jumpsuits, which are not the same nor are they as versatile and fashionable. If you can manage to function in the all-in-one style there are plenty of retro-cute designs to choose from available at myriad of vintage and retro-reproduction clothing sites.

Sew Many Choices

To get the type of playsuit I want which is the type that consists of 3-4 separate pieces, I am going to have to make it myself. Unfortunately play suit patterns available from on line vintage sellers in my size are few and far between. However, if you are smaller, some of these lovely finds might be perfect for you.

Piecing it Together

Since I cannot locate my dream playsuit or dream playsuit pattern in my size, I can piece it together. I will need a halter top pattern, shorts pattern and skirt pattern at a minimum. I could also add a short or sleeveless blouse pattern and a Capri pant pattern for more function and style options. Another option for the blouse could be a bolero. Alternatively, for those of you with great abs, you might want to substitute the halter top for a bra top or crop top. If you don’t enjoy sewing or know how to sew, you can piece it together using available vintage pieces.

Cute, Cute in Your Little Play Suit!

This bra top pattern form Simplicity is the perfect piece to build your playsuit around.
This bra top pattern form Simplicity is the perfect piece to build your playsuit around. | Source

1940s Fashion File

I think.. . .This one!

This one is perfect! Now all I need is red and white polka dot wedges!
This one is perfect! Now all I need is red and white polka dot wedges! | Source


Submit a Comment
  • Tess45 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from South Carolina

    I think it could and will, especially among the rock-a-billy/psychobilly community. Thank you for reading and your comment

  • Rochelle Williams profile image

    Rochelle Williams 

    4 years ago from Knoxville

    I love the detail you went into on this! I can't imagine the playsuit catching on today, but it certainly is an interesting slice of 40's pop culture.

  • Tess45 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from South Carolina

    I like to think of it as a challenge, and not a hassle. That being said... I still haven't taken on the challenge! :) Thanks for the vote.

  • theclevercat profile image

    Rachel Vega 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    Very cute! What a hassle to have to make four pieces, though. I do love the idea of playsuits, though. Voted up!


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