Can you imagine what the beaches looked like in the 1890s with bathing beauties attired in two-piece red wool bathing suits like this?. By the 1890s the long full drawers deemed appropriate earlier have been shortened into bloomers. The bloomers and top are completely lined. Many women went to the beach but few of them actually swam. The suits were made of non-clinging fabric such as wool flannel or mohair. The beaches were segregated by sex, and times were posted for men and women to swim separately. Nautical motif, a sash, hair covering and shoes were all part of the ensemble. The large puff sleeves have the fullness in the lower edge, adjusted with elastic. White lace frames the collar and also emphasizes the wide shoulder line popular in the 1890s. Hair was tied up to keep it from drying out in the sun. Little swimming was actually done, and no tanning, since a milky white complexion was preferred at this time. The sash fashionable in the everyday wear of the mid-1890s even appeared on the bathing suit. For those determined to “take the waters,” “bathing machines,” covered wagons outfitted with ropes and a couple of sturdy women for assistance, helped bathers to get out of the water wearing the heavy wet woolens. The weight of wool increases by as much as five times when wet. The lady was helped down the steps into the water by two study women who thought it their duty to see she got at least one good mouthful of water - for health reasons.
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