Beaches and jaunts to the country became a very important part of summer life by the mid 1920s. The motor car opened up a whole new social life and there was a need for a different wardrobe to go with this new physical activity. Spectatorship was as important as participation. 'Taking the waters' at spa resorts - particularly in Germany and Italy - had already established the need for numerous daily changes of clothing to match the mood of the moment.
In cut and colour, this dress is typical of mid decade fashion. Pastel colours were popular and the embroidery shows the influence of folk and exotic motifs. Coco Chanel's ideas influenced many of the designs of this period. Straight cut clothes that were both comfortable and easy to move in were suitable for trips to the seaside or to the country.
This kit demonstrates the growing accessibility of fashionable dress. Complete with embroidered inserts, washing instructions and an illustration of finished product, it demonstrates the 'briefing' for the dressmaker or for the home dressmaker. Although it was never assembled, there must have been many just like it, exported for women who wanted to take advantage of the craze for beachgoing. In many ways, there is more to be drawn from this unassembled kit than from a garment already fabricated. The washing instructions accompanying it are lengthy and are a good example of liability limitations on the part of the manufacturer. The lack of sewing instructions suggests the dressmaker was expected to be competent.
The illustration suggests the kit dates from 1927-1929. This kit complements a comprehensive collection of early beach and summer wear held at Powerhouse Museum.