bathing costume & swimsuit

bathing costume & swimsuit


Navy blue twilled wool. Combinations : Fronts each in one section, fastening with four buttons and buttonholes to neck with high standing collar, lined with brown twilled cotton and fastening with three hooks and loops; wide turn-down collar shaped in a point each side of front and square at back, back in two sections to waist, fronts dividing to form legs extending to knee, seamed at outside and inside leg, full and pleated at back waist seam; long sleeves in one section pleated to shoulder; collar, neck, sleeve and leg edges, all trimmed with double row of white braid. Skirt :Two flared sections to knee, slightly pleated at centre back and centre front to waistband, fastening centre front with pearl button and buttonhole; skirt open down centre front and fastening with five composition buttons and buttonholes; waist and hem trimmed with double row of white braid.

Display Label

As swimming and sea-bathing became increasingly popular during the second half of the 19th century, women's bathing clothes evolved from ankle-length wool dresses to somewhat more comfortable, practical garments. Knee-length combinations, consisting of an all-in-one bodice and short trousers, enabled women to swim freely without getting their legs caught in long skirts which also floated to the surface. A separate knee-length skirt could be worn on land to preserve modesty and then removed for swimming. Although fashion magazines such as the Young Ladies Journal or the Queen featured varied styles of costumes throughout the second half of the 19th century, navy blue wool bathing dresses with white braid trim were so popular that in July 1880 The Queen magazine suggested that for identification and laundering purposes, women might like to distinguish their very similar costumes by sewing a monogram on one arm or the front of their costumes. Navy costumes such as the two examples pictured here, were often decorated with simple contrasting trimming, such as white braid, sailor collars, or embroidered or appliqued anchors. By 1900, some more daring female bathers were beginning to wear sleeveless dresses, much more like costumes of the 1920s.

Object Name

bathing costume & swimsuit

Date Created



Combinations: 107.5cm
Skirt: 72.5cm
hem: 253cm
waist: 75cm

accession number


Place of creation




© Manchester Art Gallery

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