Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bathing Beauties

I once again came across something I found interesting and being the OCD librarian I am I just had to share. The thing I came across is actually the last photo in this bunch. It made me think about how bath suits had changed in the first forty years of the 20th century.

Everyone doesn't ponder these things?


I spent a little time culling through my collection of family photos looking for ones where the ladies were dressed in swimwear.
JR's grandmother is the one on the far left and his great-aunt is on the far right.
They were in a lake near their boarding school in Minnesota.
I, too, would be wearing that many layers to get into any lake in Minnesota.
I don't think they swam so much as waded.
With that many clothes on they probably would have sank like a rock.


In less than 20 years the suits get skimpier.
Or maybe, it's because this woman was a hussy?
Let's be honest this is Atlantic City, at that time a rather fast city.
Actually swimming in this suit would have been a lot easier.
Not sure about the shoes though.


This photo was taken at a lake in Montana.
The two women were college friends of my mother-in-law.
Swimsuits had become very daring.
Those college women!
They are so progressive.
They still have caps though.
One can not be to careful of the do'.


10 years later and swim caps are out and skin is in.
We are a bit more au-natural.
Is it just me or does the one on the far right look like a bra and tap pants?
These photos were taken out of the 1948 University of Houston Yearbook.
I'm assuming that they were taken on Galveston beach.
Once again, progressive college girls at the beach.

So that was our little walk through of swim fashions in the early 20th century. We've come along way since 1906. For good or bad. When I think about it the timing on this post is a little late. I should have done it at the beginning of the summer. Screw the timing. I didn't come upon the picture until Monday of this week and I wasn't going to wait until next summer to share.



  1. If all info was presented the way you present it, this world would be less full of dumbasses. Amen. :-)

  2. I wonder about that kind of stuff too. I was just at the antique mall looking at more old photos. I wish I could buy them all. I love to look at the clothing.

    Funny, I was born in Houston, and my family used to go to Galveston beach a lot. Some day I'll get back there. Probably not in a suit like those though. lol

  3. Swimwear is very interesting to see how it evolved to what "strings" some wear today!

  4. I love to look at old photos!

    I don't think I could swim in a cold, cold lake!

    Can you imagine swiming in a lake in today's suits! BRRRRRR


  5. Loved this post. I so enjoy when share archives with us - makes me like history even more.

    I'm a bit glad you stopped in 1948

  6. The first women to wear bathing suits at the turn of the century were often arrested for indecent exposure, depending on where they lived. I love the progression from those first days through the 40s - fascinating, Michele! I love your posts with the old photos and bits of history.

    To paraphrase an old Virginia Slims ad, "We've come a long way, baby." Thank goodness.

  7. Oops, Anonymom is me. Forgot about the Google account.

  8. I think it's really intersting.

    I bet they would all have a heart attack if they saw what people wear these days.

  9. Now this was really fun! I would enjoy reading a whole book about this kind of thing!

  10. I love these old photos. I can't get enough of them. As for the 1906 suits, look more like drowning suits than swim suits! All they could do was wade.

  11. I love the 1939 look. I think those suits are very flattering.

  12. Ha! I'm not a librarian and I've seen those old pics and wondered the same thing. Like, which changed first, our sensibilities, or the fashion? Does the fashion change our inhibitions? Is that why they push the envelope?

    omg, could that mean it might be considered a real ART? Cripes.

  13. and I sit here looking at these and thinking of my speedo. Thank God times have changed

  14. I think you need to continue this study up until the present.

  15. the obvious first: JRs Grandma was a real cutey.

    okay, loved the series, and your banter was engaging as always. :-)

    now, wanna share with YOU.

    if'n you ever come to Brooklyn, NY AND if Coney Island still exists (doubtful) AND Rudy's Pub is still on the boardwalk just walk right in, yer gonna go ga-ga over the photos covering its walls.

    over a century's worth of bathing beauties (like in your pix), bar regulars, rides, and changes to America's playground from years past and present.

    but, hurry, the Yuppies are taking over and soon there'll only be condos and hotels for the wealthy.

    this is what you series reminds us of, those picture-covered walls.

    thank you so very much for today's post, Michele . . .



  16. Awesome. Gotta love those college girls. Have you seen a college Halloween costume party lately? Less clothing than the at the beach. Talk about the times a changing. I sound like I am 90.