1920s Mermaid Bathing Bandeau

There was a time when women bathers – or swimmers – always covered their hair before going into the water.  That was probably due to practicality when women all had very long hair.  But during the late 1910s, women started cutting their locks, and so many began swimming hatless.

I suppose the bandeau was something of a compromise.  It kept the hair off the face, and somewhat covered.  But it was also a bit of a fashion statement.  The bandeau for sports was popularized in the 1920s by tennis great Suzanne Lenglen, whose very short pleated skirts and head bandeaus were widely copied.

This is the Mermaid Bathing Bandeau.  It’s made of chamois leather, and appears to have never actually been used. I got this last winter when I bought some very nice sports items from the family of a long-time collector of historic clothing.  She had some of the most unusual little things, like this bandeau, things that often have not survived due to use.   Being made of leather, I’m sure it would not have lasted long had the original owner been much of a swimmer!

The woman in the middle is wearing a similar bandeau.


Filed under Collecting, Summer Sports

7 responses to “1920s Mermaid Bathing Bandeau

  1. I never knew that was the name of the caps women used to wear. What an awesome blog post! It was very educational. Thanks for sharing! You’re lucky to be able to find such awesome stuff. =D


  2. Wow Lizzie, what an awesome find!


  3. Debby

    I have a odd bathing cap called the “Turbana” , it is a white glaseen (sp?)hat with 2 ties. The paper tag is attached which describes how the wearer is to cross the ties at the back of the neck then bring up to your forehead where you were to tie a bow. The price marked was 75 cents. I have very little other information about the Turbana except it obviously has never been worn. Have you ever heard of a Turbana or know of when it would have been used?


  4. Hi Debby,

    i’v never encountered the Turbana, but it sure sounds interesting. Could you possibly send some photos of it?


  5. Pingback: The 1920s Sports Bandeau « The Vintage Traveler

  6. Lovely. I am from south Europe, and this was not definitely part of swimming wear of our women in past, and that is reason more why is so interesting and unusual for me. Sweet!


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