August 26, 2017

Men's Swimsuits From the Early 20th Century: One of the Most Awful Costumes of All Time

Swimsuit regulations were the strictest in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when men were prohibited by law and custom from going bare-chested in public. Woolen one-piece suits with cutoff sleeves and legs were the common style. In the 30s, that began to change, and men actually organized protests arguing for the right to go topless, many of whom were cited for public indecency. Finally, in 1936, the topless ban was lifted in Westchester, New York, and other cities and states followed suit, mostly for economic reasons.


From that point on, swimsuits were more about function and style than modesty. Specialty suits began to evolve in the ’60s and onward, leading up to today’s world of wetsuits, boardshorts, drag suits for training, and more.

These photos will show the reason why men’s swimsuits from between the 1900s and 1920s are so awful.


































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