Red Cross Playsuit

The other day I went out with my friend Sarah, who is a stellar hot rod photographer, in addition to working at Antique Alley.  We both had some clothes to sell and we stopped in at Buffalo Exchange and Red Light, which have an abundant amount of Halloween costumes out. Most vintage gals know that Halloween is the best time. Many stores hoard loads of vintage as well as other “odd ball” garments to put out for Halloween…and it is on a Halloween rack that I found this…

Yes, it’s a romper, but it has an American Red Cross Military Welfare patch on the left sleeve, as well as ARC buttons.  The inside only has a small size label of a size 12.  That size, combined with the fact that the garment has shoulder pads as well as the construction leads me to believe that it is from WWII.

The thing is, I can’t seem to find a single darn thing about an ARC romper on the internet, even on the ever thorough Blitzkrieg Baby site!  I’ve tried “playsuit”, “gym uniform”, “exercise”, and “physical fitness uniform” as well, since participating in physical activity is the only time I can imagine this sort of outfit being worn, due to how casual it is.  I do know that the ARC Clubmobile branch wore trousers, however this bares a “Military Welfare Service” patch.

Mystery Solved!

Updated October 23, 2012.  I joined the forum at Blitzkrieg Baby where I posted images of the playsuit and Katy answered my question! “This is an ARC playsuit which was introduced during the summer of 1944 and issued to all domestic and oversea recreation workers clearing for tropic regions. Other recreation workers could purchase it at own expense (if considered necessary by the field director in charge of their activities).  The playsuit also included a skirt which was buttoned down the front.”

Image Courtesy of Katy of Blitzkrieg Baby, who received the image from authentic ARC material, compiled by Shirley Powers, ARC Volunteer-Historian.

As many of you speculated, it did come with a skirt!  So now I either have to either track down a skirt or make one! I’d still love to see a photograph of an ARC gal wearing one! That would be nifty!

10 thoughts on “Red Cross Playsuit

  1. I can’t be of assist either, but gosh, you look lovely in it! Good luck – it IS always so much nicer to know the history of what you’re wearing!

  2. What an amazing find! That shade of dusty blue is completely beautiful on you, sweet gal. I wish the thrift stores here would pull out their best vintage (lol, or any pre-65 vintage!) this time of the year. So far all I’ve seen is a couple of beat up square dance length crinolines.

    ♥ Jessica

  3. You look so sweet in this outfit, it looks way too cute to have been anything like standard issue! I must say I agree with The Vintage Traveller…I think it might have be an exercise romper, I was recently watching Upstairs, Downstairs (the one set in the late 1930’s and the exercise suit that Lady Agnes wore was of a similar cut- although it was made of two seperates, and in satin. She was wearing it for an organised Women’s Health League…don’t quote me on the exact name….I do hope that someone knowledgable comes along with an answer, I”m dying to know too! xx

  4. That romper looks so wonderful on you and it’s in such great condition for an item from the 40s! Normally I’m not a fan of one piece rompers because I find them to be not so flattering on ones figure but this one is just lovely and shows off your lovely figure beautifully 🙂

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