The Crawl: 1924 Swimming Booklet

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that this little booklet was published by a maker of bathing suits, the Ocean Bathing Suit Company.  While it is primarily an informational pamphlet, it is also an advertisement.  One philosophy of advertising is to give the consumer something they will keep, but that has the advertiser’s message included in the item.  It must work because someone kept this for 90 years before it came into my hands.

The writer, L.De B. Handley, was a swimming teacher, and on the left you can read the impressive list of his renowned students.

The booklet is well illustrated, and all the drawings are of women swimmers.  In fact, the entire booklet seems to be targeted toward women, though some men’s suits are shown as well.

Even the 1924 Women’s Olympic Swim Team used Ocean suits.


No informational pamphlet is complete without a showing of the wares.

The booklet also has a really interesting page titled, “The Development of Bathing Apparel.”  It combines history with a bit of selling:

Back in the early “eighties” swimming was considered a reckless sport to be indulged in only by those of a more daring nature.  Few women could really swim, and those of their sex who visited beaches did so for the moderate stimulus of “bathing”.

In 1883, when Ocean started manufacturing bathing apparel, suits were for the most part made of flannel or “hickory,” and it was not until about 1900 that mohair was introduced, replacing flannel, which in turn, was superseded in popularity by knitted jersey cloth.  The constant changes in materials, and styles, was due in greatest measure to the steadily growing interest in swimming.  As new strokes, demanding greater freedom, were introduced, there consequently followed a simplification of models.

Through all these ramifications of style, Ocean maintained its position as the favorite beachwear in this country by constant improvement in methods and quality.  Coupled with this, a keen appreciation of style demands has always made Ocean beachwear the preference of those who enjoy water sports.  While the practical requirement of swimming comfort is the first consideration, every Ocean suit is styled with a keen sense of quiet good taste.


Filed under Summer Sports

11 responses to “The Crawl: 1924 Swimming Booklet

  1. Mohair and flannel bathing suits? lol



    Mohair to swim in…ITCHING at the thought ! Happy New Year ! One day I will email you all the stuff I have also saved !


  3. seweverythingblog

    How interesting to see the choice of materials! I wonder at what point in time the aerodynamic materials of today’s swimsuits made an appearance, I keep coming across garment type knit fabric suits made as late as the 1940s.


    • Wool knits are pretty common thorough the 1930s. By then the fabric makers were adding Lastex to give the fabric added shape. By the middle 1950s, you start to see suits made of nylon, and then in the early 60s, polyester starts appearing. By the late 1970s mast women’s suits were being made of poly knit, usually with spandex added.


  4. Another treasure saved from the trash bin. Fascinating!


  5. My last wool knit bathing suit — a modern stretch fabric but containing wool — fit great, looked good, but came to an unhappy end around 1970. I decided to apply a little Nair hair remover to my legs at the last minute, forgetting that wool is hair. I got some of the Nair on the swim suit…. Uh-Oh!
    I think that suit was made by Cole of California in the late 1960s. Like all wool suits, it could absorb a great amount of water — Imagine swimming an Olympic event in a wool suit!


  6. Pingback: Ad Campaign – Ocean Bathing Suits, 1925 | The Vintage Traveler

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