View Full Version : men's bathing costume
07-05-2007, 02:01 PM
Good Day All,
Well, I tried the search engine for "men's bathing costume" and it came up with nothing but a page that was 'forbidden.':p I'm not really sure what to make of that, but suffice it to say that I couldn't find any information.
Does anyone here have any images or information about civilian men's bathing costumes of the 1850-60s?
07-05-2007, 02:02 PM
Reading articles on vacations to spas or the seashore would yield some details, but the most common arrangement I've seen in photos thus far indicates men bathing in very finely worked birthday suits.
07-05-2007, 05:05 PM
While a very finely worked birthday suit :eek:may actually be "forbidden" to our eyes :D
There does seem to be a problem with the search function--when I was trying to link up with the on-line Work Woman's Guide about 3:00 this morning, I could get all kinds of 'search results' on the board, but when attempting to open a particular post, the "forbidden' page pops up.
07-05-2007, 05:52 PM
Here is what I found:
The next two links have CDV's to support men & women's bathing costumes.
This was all I was able to find. I hope this helps ...
07-05-2007, 11:41 PM
I know of a story, "Debby's Debut", written by Louisa May Alcott, published in Atlantic Monthly in August of 1863. The story line takes Debby and her Aunt Pen to the beach at a popular watering place. Debby is somewhat embarrassed to go to the beach but she does without too much protest, as does Aunt Pen. She runs into at least two male friends on the beach and I'm pretty sure they weren't wearing their birthday suits. One of them takes a hand at teaching Debby to swim. I can't remember whether there is a description of what the men are wearing but the story is a hoot to read so y'all enjoy. Here's a link to the story online: http://www.online-literature.com/alcott/2721/
07-06-2007, 07:05 AM
While doing some research last night, I came across an article in which the author mentioned an 1860s cartoon entitled "Dog Days" that featured a family in bathing costume. Unfortunately I cannot find the website in which this article appeared nor can I locate the aforementioned cartoon this morning. It was waaaay deep in a Google search so I'll try again this weekend to locate the particular site.
Trish, thanks for reposting the link to that book. I had lost it during one of my many recent computer meltdowns.
07-06-2007, 11:43 AM
Swimming nude has a long tradition, for both men and women, though more for the former. However, there is little to indicate that nude swimming ever happened in mixed-sex company. In the 1840s-60s, I've seen many references to men swimming nude, but only in very informal settings, like in the east river off Brooklyn (illegally) or in the men's section at the public beaches.
The Science of Swimming, 1849, supports all of this:
"Bathing is best performed quite naked, but, as in bathing establishments in large towns and cities, and in thickly-settled parts of the country, decency forbids entire nudity, a kind of short drawers is worn, as may be seen in our engraving; and where ladies and gentlemen bathe in company, as is the fashion all along the Atlantic Coast, and especially at Rockaway, Coney Island, Long Branch, etc. Shirts and Trousers are worn by the men, and flannel bathing dresses, made for the purpose, by the ladies."
As for swimming costume, I've come across two types. The first, and most common, is well illustrated in this CDV (which someone has already posted, but I'll post it at its current site). This one has ample documentation for being worn in the US.
Basically, a top very much resembling an overshirt, most likely made of wool flannel, and loose trousers made of the same. Interestingly, the trouser cuffs in this photo are gathered into a band, just like the women's cuffs.
The second type is basically just a pair of shorts. I've never seen this in good detail, and I have never seen it worn in the company of women. The shorts show up in illustrations in an 1849 swimming manual:
The Science of Swimming (http://www.gothampatterns.com/tempbathing.html#sbarticles) (I wasn't allowed to scan the illustrations, sorry!)
The swimming manual was printed in New York, but most swimming manuals were just copied from other printings, so there is a chance that the illustrations were not American.
They also show up in greater and more colorful detail in a French painting from 1869.
Frederic Bazille "The Bathers" (http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bazzile/bazzile7.html)
(Take this painting with a grain of salt, as it is French, and the French had a tradition of men wearing boldly striped bathing-suits, which I haven't come across in American documents or images)
It's not about male swimming-costume in particular, but has general information about swimming & swim costumes:
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