Rosie The Riveter’s Swimsuit Romance

vintage illustration 1940s man and woman at beach in suits

Vintage Ad WWII Jantzen Swim Wear 1943

It was a sweltering summer in 1943 and along with most war-weary Americans, Rosie the Riveter needed a day off.

In the heat and stickiness of summer everybody was tired, dog tired, completely fed up with neckties, girdles, time clocks, cook stoves, typewriters, telephones, ration coupons and endless shortages.

Americans United

There was only one way to win the war and get the job done -each of us had to give everything whether it was on the home front or in a war plant making the ammunition and tools our men needed to win

vintage illustration Rosie the Riveter WWII

Vintage Illustration Robert Riggse Saturday Evening Post 1944

WWII Man Shortage

Everyday hundreds of men were leaving civilian jobs to join the armed forces.

In their place marched in women, who were “carrying on” work that had to be done to keep America’s war program going at top speed.

There could be no letting down, no slacking until the peace was signed, until our men returned

At Ease

For overworked Rosie the Riveter, the romance of the beach beckoned.

But what good was the beach without a beau to rub suntan oil on her, admire the curves of her swim suit?

Rosie had learned to live with less butter, eggs, and meat, but it was the darn man shortage that drove her batty.

The absence of an entire generation of men between the ages of 17 and 30 left a lonely void.

Even though she and her crowd of girls enjoyed playing bridge and having hen parties to fill up those lonely weekends, Rosie couldn’t help wondering if they were not rationing love too.

If she were headed for the beach, she needed some ammunition to attract whatever available men were still around.

Vintage illustration 1940s woman diving as soldiers watch

Vintage Ad WWII- Jantzen Swim Suits 1943 Clearly directed at war weary workers the copy reads “Make something of your day off, your vacation or your leave…get a Jantzen and get out where there’s sea and water and joy.”

Last word in Swim Suits

Luckily the stores still stocked the new curve allure Jantzen swimsuit advertised in Life Magazine that promised not only to give you lines that were thrilling but make you the most radiant star of summers bright stage.

The swim suit ads not only prompted you to be patriotic and “buy war  bonds today to be free to enjoy tomorrow” they reminded you “to make each moment something to remember because this was a different kind of summer

Like most industries Jantzen had retooled to manufacture military items to support the war effort manufacturing sleeping bags, and gas mask carriers but   thankfully  some swimwear still rolled off their assembly lines.

vintage ad 1940s men and women in swim suits in ocean

Vintage 1942 Ads for Jantzen -Hurrell Photograph

Beach Bliss

Empowered by  the uplifting capability  of her new Jantzen bra, the heavenly slimming  fabric magic of Lastex , she was ready to catch the eye of any wacky khaki

With glamor and glow she and her pals hopped into her pre-war De Soto and headed to the beach, having carefully saved her dearly rationed  gas allotment  so she could make the excursion.

The crowded beach was a picture of muscular grace and bulging waistlines, of smooth tans and freckles, of sunburn oil, adhesive plaster and bathing suits which had obviously been in mothballs since the early 1920s

After 3 straight summers of crisis, war-weary Americans needed a little relief. So they undid their stays, let their hair down and dug their toes happily in the sand- without dignity, without care.

Establishing her beachhead among the other brown backs on the  pristine white sand,  Rosie settled in  for a healthy burn.

So long pale face.

vintage illustration Jantzen swimsuit ad men and woman in bathing suit

Vintage ad Jantzen swim suits 1943 WWII Something to Remember for the boys overseas: “It’s a new kind of summer,” this war time ad begins,”thrilling with new Jantzen swim suits to make a girl lovely for a man on leave…to give a man something to remember”

Hello Soldier

Suddenly out of thin air, looking trim in his tailored trunks appeared  Stanley, a khaki Casanova , who swept her off her feet.

The dream guy she was always talking about had really come to life.

She couldn’t remember very much what they talked about …except when the soldier asked her to go dancing that very evening, “Fate, she thought, “you’ve got a finger in this…and who am I to fight you!”

Vintage Illustration WWII soldier kissing girl

The evening would reek of romance.

Now that perfume was also very dear due to alcohol shortage, she was glad she used her favorite Cashmere Bouquet, the soap with the fragrance men loved.

A girl had to lure a man with something!

While sharing a conga line together, the sizzling rhythms, the drums and maracas filling her mind, Rosie remembered all the articles she had read, all the movies she had seen, all the songs she had heard, and it all help confirm what she knew in her heart to be true.

This was indeed love!  It all added up…the starry eyes…the fireworks in the bloodstream…this was what the songs sing about…this is what little girls are made for…this is what she washed religiously with Ponds for!

This was why she scrimped and saved to  buy a Jantzen suit !

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Rosie the Riveter Goes to War

How Rosie the Riveters Won Over Her Husband

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  1. Those bathing suit ads are fantastic! The war references in the Jantzen ads are dynamite!


  2. Pingback: Great Images, Just a Click Away at “Envisioning the American Dream” | witness2fashion

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