Women continued to make their greatest strides by becoming active. The ultra rich built homes of the 1890s with swimming pools inside. Schools added swimming and exercise to their programs. Blue cotton tunic and bloomers compose this outfit for the gymnasium. Social customs allowed young ladies to be less restricted when taking their exercises. Young ladies of distinction boarded or went daily to seminaries such as Highland Hall in Hollidaysburg, PA. French designers gave their stamp of approval to bloomers for cycling, bathing, and gymnasium outfits. Special corsets for sports and exercising were constructed with less boning, and were sometimes replaced by a wide belt. These sometimes were made of stiff leather and gave support when not wearing the corset. Fringe and trimming still abound even on such a utilitarian item of clothing. The leg was covered with silk or cotton stockings. Some in checks, stripes or embroidered. Tied on slippers protected the feet. Bowling-pin shaped “Indian Clubs,” or meels, weighed two to 24 pounds each and were popular for toning muscles and building strength. Ladies used lighter weight clubs but did the same exercises as the men.

Click photo for detailed view.