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January 10, 2020

30 Vintage Pics That Defined Women's Bathing Suits in the early 20th Century

It was in the early 1800s that people began to flock to the beaches for seaside amusement. With the introduction of railroads, ocean-side beaches became even more popular for sunny recreations. Along with this new outdoor pastime came the need for a stylish garment for the privileged lady of fashion.

By the end of the 19th century, people were flocking to the oceanside beaches for popular seaside activities such as swimming, surf bathing, and diving. The clumsy Victorian-style bathing costumes were becoming burdensome. A need for a new style bathing suits that retained modesty but was free enough to allow the young lady to engage in swimming was obvious.

By 1910, bathing suits no longer camouflaged the contours of the female body. The yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing skirts and bloomers were reduced to show a little more of the figure and to allow for exposure to the sun. By the mid-1910s, women athletes started to share the actual sport of swimming with men and thus began to reduce the amount of heavy fabric used in their billowing swimsuits.

By the 1920s, women’s bathing suits were reduced to a one piece garment with a long top that covered shorts. Though matching stockings were still worn, vintage swimwear began to shrink and more and more flesh was exposed from the bottom of the trunks to the tops of the stockings.

Take a look at these vintage postcard photos to see what bathing-suit styles of women looked like from between the 1900s and 1920s.


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