‘Bathing costumes have a combined duty – serviceableness and daintiness. How many girls know how to swim these days? Nearly all of them; in fact, the girl who cannot tumble about in the water is an exception these days.’ (San Francisco Call, 1902)
That’s my 1900s bathing costume.
Edwardian bathing costumes were either made of wool, cotton or silk fabric. For my bathing dress I used blue cotton fabric.
‘Black and dark blue wool is the best color’. (San Francisco Call, 1902)
But not all Edwardian bathing suits were made of wool.
‘Ladies’ two-piece bathing suit […] made from good quality blue cotton fabric, with sailor collar, blouse effect, with the collar and skirt trimmed with white braid.’ (Sears, Roebuck and Company, 1900s)
My Edwardian bathing costume has a sailor collar. Edwardian bathing suits often had nautical details, like this 1900s blue bathing costume with white sailor collar.
I used white cotton fabric strips and black cotton ric rac ribbon to trim the bathing suit.
The bathing dress has knife pleats in front which are stitched down at the shoulder and at the waist under the belt. Here’s a late 1870s bathing suit with knife pleats at the front.
The belt is stitched down at the back and is closed with one button at the front. The description of a 1904 bathing suit says: ‘The girdle holds the suit well in place while it gives perfect freedom to the body in swimming.’
At the back, the fabric is just gathered beneath the yoke and sailor collar. (1900s bathing suit with sailor collar and pleats at the back)
‘Sailor collars have been and always will be just the right thing for the water. Even they vary slightly in style. One may be fastened snugly at the throat and be absolutely guiltless of ornamentation, while the next one may be V-shaped and a mass of applique work. Again it may be square or it may be circular; it may fasten over a vest and again it may be the only trimming the suit boasts of.’ (San Francisco Call, 1902)
Edwardian bathing costumes were either made with the blouse and drawers in one part and a button-on skirt, or the blouse and skirt in one part and separate drawers. My bathing costume is like a knee-lenght dress with the blouse and skirt in one part.
‘And speaking of skirts, whatever else you do, do not have them that ungainly, wretched length that makes of the prettiest girl a fright. Have it short – the shorter the better. Never below the knees, for then it loses that something which smart folks call chic.’ (San Francisco Call, 1902)
‘After they [the bathing suits] are wet they cling and stick as closely as possible and the young lady who has not the figure of Venus feels rather shy at displaying all her defects so openly.’ (San Francisco Call, 1902)
But because of the belt and pleats, the bathing costume gives the figure an Edwardian S-curve silhouette.
It was a beautiful, warm September day when we took the photos.
This lake was my favorite place. But, sadly, these are the last pictures from there, because the whole area is now closed off with giant brush piles and gigantic sand heaps. 🙁
I put my hair into an Edwardian pompadour hairstyle.
Here you’ll find my tutorial for this easy and authentic Edwardian Pompadour hairstyle.
Here’s an Edwardian black and white photograph of a woman with a similar bathing costume: Atlantic city beach ca.1905 by William M. Vander Weyde
I love the bathing costume 😀 – it’s comfortable to wear and so pretty. It can even be worn today as a sailor-style dress.
With the bathing costume, I’m wearing my matching DIY Edwardian bathing shoes with cork soles, which are made with the same blue cotton fabric.
Here’s a picture of a pretty 1885 bathing costume with bathing shoes.
In the 1900s, legs were never bare while bathing, but were always covered with stockings, usually dark wool stockings. I’m wearing black cotton stockings.
The shoes are comfortable to wear – a bit slippery on steep sand hills like here.
Here you’ll find my pinterest board ‘1900s sportswear‘ with more 1900s bathing costumes.