Bathing Suits, Circa 1872

After showing my newest vintage bathing suit, I thought I ought to show this fashion print of some very early bathing costumes.  When I was a little girl I always wondered why it was called a bathing suit, as the ones from the early 1960s were mainly one piece affairs.  But looking at this image you can see why it was called a suit.  The full ensemble included a cap, dress, pantaloons, stockings and shoes.

Interestingly, my 1916 bathing suit is more similar to these from over forty years prior than it is to the one piece knit suits women were wearing only five years later.  It was pointed out in the comments yesterday that the changes in bathing suits had a lot to do with the move toward more freedoms and rights for women.  It is interesting that women gained the right to vote in the United States about the same time they began to wear bathing suits that were actually suitable for swimming.


Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

8 responses to “Bathing Suits, Circa 1872

  1. Gaining your right to wear bathing suits! Awesome


  2. That does strike a funny bone. Women gained the right to wear less. Go figure. But I do understand that wearing spandex that fit can be more covering than wearing something saggy and baggy. I suppose I think of things differently now that I’m a mom of budding teens…..who don’t really want to reveal themselves to all either. I don’t know why….but I love the lines of those old outfits.


  3. Wow! I can’t imagine how much weight would be added by wearing such an item wet!

    And that is interesting indeed.


    • Alice McGary

      It’s no wonder that my mother was afraid of water because she would have drowned in one of those outfits. She would not let me go near the water although she did let me dip my toes in the surf a few times.


  4. Lizzie, A friend forwarded this video from the BBC to me yesterday. It’s a history piece/tribute on knitting. There’s even a lady willing to try out the knitted, wool swim suit. It’d rate it PG for near uncovering moments, but overall it’s great. It covers how the Prince of Wales popularized the Fair Isle jumpers and shows jumpers made by POWs. It walks through fashion history related to knitting. I think you’d enjoy it.


  5. You are welcome. Really, thanks goes to my friend, Micheál, in Galway. I think the BBC could travel to other areas and cover more on the beautiful jumpers of that part of the world. I’d love it!


  6. Pingback: Novelty Textiles: Nautical | The Vintage Traveler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.