Swimsuit season is definitely upon us and it’s hot…..really hot in some places so I thought I’d bring you a little “summertime fun” because oh how things in the bathing suit business have changed throughout the decades.
Many decades ago (but not that long ago) the bathing suit was very different than it is today and the laws that pertained to wearing one were (today) quite comical way back when.
Back in the Victorian age a bathing machine was built that contained a “modesty tunnel” that allowed a fully-clothed woman to enter the ocean without being seen in a “bathing suit” even though they probably came down to her knees.
* In the 18th century women wore “bathing gowns” which were long full-length gowns that were made from wool or flannel. (Don’t get them too wet or the weight might have drowned you!). Doesn’t that sound awful?!
* Modesty, of course, was always the purpose of the bathing suit way back when. In the early 1900s many American cities created laws that required all women in bathing suits to wear stockings. Boy, doesn’t that sound comfortable!
* Women weren’t the only sex that were required to obey laws. During the early 1900s the American Association of Park Superintendent’s published it’s “Bathing Suit Regulations” that men’s bathing suits should include a “skirt” that would be worn outside the swimming trunks.
* Of course, during the early years of bathing suits women’s modesty must be protected. Therefore a woman was detained at Coney Island for wearing a bathing suit in public. While this may seem like a reasonable requirement for that period of time this woman was made to wear her bathing suit in public under her street clothes. Shocking! Have that woman arrested!
* Talk about funny things…………….in the 1900s women who wanted to swim in the ocean had to wear swimwear that could weigh as much as 22 pounds when it got wet. Many of them had to hold onto a rope to keep from being washed away. I wonder how many of them drowning!
* While we think of the bikini as a relatively new swimsuit don’t believe it. In the heyday of the Roman Empire women in the baths used to wear a two-piece “bathing suit.”
I remember when my family had a wonderful high school girl from Switzerland stay with us in the 1970s as a foreign student. She was delightful and we loved her dearly. On day when we were at our family beach house on the sand she came outside and put her towel down and stretched out in her (gulp!) bikini. Now, this was when bikini’s weren’t nearly as little as they are today. In fact, today we would consider them a “two-piece bathing suit.” My mother was shocked and said, ever so sweetly to Annamarie, “Darling, are you going to wear that out here? ” Annemarie replied, “Yes, mother.” Mother said something else about the “smallness of her swimsuit” but Annemarie simply answered, “But mother, it is my duty to show Swiss culture.” Mother didn’t say another word.