Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dress of the Week: Edwardian Bathing Suit

The weather was rather warm the other day and I had the pleasure of going to the beach and enjoy some sea bathing. It was pleasantly refreshing and the only thing I could have wished for was this striped blue, white and red bathing suit.

Bathing suit, front, 1900-1910, British. Met Museum  
Bathing suit, back, 1900-1910, British. Met Museum 
Date: 1900–1910
Culture: British
Medium: cotton
Dimensions: Length at CB (a): 37 in. (94 cm) Length (b): 31 1/2 in. (80 cm) Length (c): 27 3/4 in. (70.5 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1977
Sea bathing for its therapeutic and medicinal value was around since the 17th century, but became really popular in the 18th century. The history of the bathing suit is very long, and I will leave it for another post. Suffice it to say that by the 20th century the beachwear became less cumbersome, more playful and and lighter. However, modesty while swimming was still on everyone's mind and modern bikinis and onepiece suits were still a long way away. 

This pretty cotton number looks very lightweight and has a playful sailor motif going for it, which was common for swim suits and beachwear of the time. It consist of a short tunic-like dress with a stylized sailor collar and a belt and a pair of bloomers gathered just below the knee. The blue, white and red color scheme make it really fun. While swimming in this would be difficult and it may get heavy and deformed when wet, this could be a pretty nice outfit if all you want to do is lounge around on the beach, stroll along the shore and generally look adorable.    

Source: Met Museum

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