Bathing Beauties

BY Elaine Henson

Saltwater and sea air were discovered to be therapeutic and good for your health in the late 1800s. Bathing became immensely popular as hundreds flocked to Wrightsville Beach seeking improved health.

Bathing costumes were a far cry from the simple swimsuits we wear today. Women wore modest knee-length dresses with skirts sleeves and middy collars for a nautical look. Underneath they wore corsets and bloomers that went below the knees wool stockings bathing shoes and matching headgear. The dresses would often have lead weights sewn in to the hems to anchor the skirts while in the water. Victorian modesty ruled supreme in those days. Men wore wool-knit collarless shirts with sleeves and knee-length shorts.

Swimwear has evolved in countless transformations over the years since those early bathers. We look at some of the actual suits and vintage print ads depicting styles from the 20s to 1950s.

Click the link above to view Elaine Hensons vintage swimsuit collection from the Roaring 20s to the 1950s along with vintage swimsuit ads.