History of Swimwear
I post this from the coast of Rhode Island where I’ve spent a lot of time (too much time?) this summer. But as the season winds down, a brief history of swimwear.
Until the 1670s women swam in the buff at spas in England. From there, they were literally canvased in attire. Wikipedia quotes Humphrey Clinker’s 1771 description of women’s beachwear:
The ladies wear jackets and petticoats of brown linen, with chip hats, in which they fix their handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from their faces; but, truly, whether it is owing to the steam that surrounds them, or the heat of the water, or the nature of the dress, or to all these causes together, they look so flushed, and so frightful, that I always turn my eyes another way.
English men did the naked thing until the early 1700s at which point in time the Bath Corporation released an official dress code:
It is Ordered Established and Decreed by this Corporation that no Male person above the age of ten years shall at any time hereafter go into any Bath or Baths within this City by day or by night without a Pair of Drawers and a Waistcoat on their bodies.
In Rhode Island I’ve seen all sorts of suits. For better or worse though, no Borat-style mankinis. — Michael
Image: Details from History of Swimwear, by Backyard Ocean.