Historical Swimsuits

Hey! Just thought this was interesting. We are doing a historical display at the Lincoln Railsplitter Festival and we had to do some research on old fashioned swimsuits. So here is the summary of all I found. It's actually pretty interesting. Don't be afraid to read it.
Before 1837, people just swam in whatever they had on. But between 1837 and 1901, swimsuits became a piece of clothing set for the very purpose of swimming. Modesty for women was important, and style
was not an important factor.

The swimsuits sometimes had long sleeves and were made out of flannel or wool. They were not very practical or comfortable! They consisted of a blouse, a skirt over bloomers, and long black stockings. For most of the suits, the ladies would sew lead weights into their hems, to keep the skirts from floating up!

In the early 1800’s, people started to find out that the beach was a good place for recreation and leisure. It was a very popular place and the rail-roads made the beach more accessible. The men and woman would stay on different sides of the beach. But pretty soon, swimming had become an art, and it was more and more acceptable for women to swim with men! But with all of the swimming, surf-bathing, and diving going on, it was obvious that the women needed a change in their swimsuits!

By 1880, the “princess” cut was introduced, consisting of a blouse and trousers. The skirts were traded in for cotton-like pants. Then, the outfit was completed by a ruffled cap or a straw hats, although some of the more fashionable ladies wore fancy hats to match their suits. But as time went by, the women got more daring, the suits got shorter, tighter, and more skin was exposed. But even the swimsuits of that time era were nothing like the swimsuits of our day!

One woman, Annette Keller, was actually arrested in 1909, for wearing a loose one piece bathing suit! But, just one year later, that was the accepted style. By 1920 almost all women were wearing 1 piece bathing suits. And now, for most ladies, we have nothing more than a couple triangles held together by string! That’s why we make these modest swimsuits for ladies!

Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Please let me know what you think! We love comments, but we don't get very many!
- Jen


  1. Wow, that's very interesting! I wish modesty was the foremost concern of our culture today. Though it sounds the first swimsuits weren't very practical, but that doesn't mean there can't be modest swimsuits that are! As y'all and others have proven! :) Thanks for the neat post! By the way, where did you get most of your information?

  2. Thanks! Well, I got it from about 3 different sites. I just typed in " Swimsuits from the 1800's" and " Old Fashioned Swimsuits".

    - Jen


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