Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Swimsuits #Circa1920

This week is hot and the swimming pool is crowded. During the Victorian era, swimming was an activity that middle and upper class people generally frowned upon except for military and other young men.  Some swim races were even included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.  Men were given more to expose legs and arms so they could don a suit that allowed some movement through the water. Up until the 1930s, men wore suits like that pictures in this photograph from the 1920s.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, social (and sometimes legal) restrictions prohibited women from appearing in public with exposed legs or shoulders.  Women's bathing costumes looked like short dresses and dark stockings.
It is hard to imagine how anyone could swim dressed like this, especially as the garments were usually made of wool and would have become sodden and weighty in water.

Attitudes began to change.  Swimming races for women were added to the Olympics in 1912.  For freedom of movement, these athletes adopted suits similar to the ones men wore.  By the mid-1920s, this style of suit was worn by most young women.

Seven women on an Oregon beach circa 1920

The Benton County Historical Museum has several of these 1920s swimsuits in its collection.

Gantner & Mattern Company one-piece
red wool knit bathing suit, circa 1925
This red wool knit swimsuit was worn by either Grace or Flossie Warman when swimming in the Marys River near their farm circa 1925.
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

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