Well I have returned from a spectacular holiday in the Bahamas, and although the weather was considerably cooler than expected, the daily karate workouts on the beach and the graciousness of our Bahamian hosts made the cool ocean water well worth it! Some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen!
The Bahamian beaches have inspired a summer influenced post today. I enjoy looking at photos of vintage bathing beauties, particularly at the construction of the swimming costumes. People often went to the beach, but fully clothed and it was not until the early 1800's that a bathing costume was invented. Certainly not the type of bathing suit we are used to today! A lady was still fully clothed to protect her skin (hmm, think we could learn a lesson or two from that).
By the late 1890s, bathing suits were still constricting, but clues are obvious as to their evolution. Made of wool, it was finished with stockings and cap, but were now knee length.
As fitness was becoming more popular, clothing needed to accommodate a moving form. By the early 1900s, the Victorian layers of bathing suit gave way to a more figure flattering and skin exposing suit.
This was a more androgynous style, suited to the flapper figure of the 1920s. A very athletic look where the shorts were built-in to the suit.
Early swimming costumes are difficult to come by as a vintage seller, but one of the best sellers on the internet is Glamour Surf. They carry a wide collection of suits for women and men, from the 1920s on. Here is an early 1900s Edwardian suit from their collection, now available.