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1920s: Swimwear for the Seaside

Posted on June 12 2014

'Suns out bums out' was certainly not the case in the 1920's, but there was no shortage of wonderful beach attire. For those fancying a dip in the ocean it wasn't all plain sailing (ahem) women were arrested for showing too much skin and men too for baring their chests.  

Here are a few snippets of 1920s swimwear trivia for you:

- In 1907, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested for indecent exposure because her swimsuit showed her arms, legs and neck.

- Annette Kellerman marketed a line of her own bathing suits which were considered the most offensive style of the 1920s.

- In 1910 bathing suits began to fit the contours of the female body. The yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing suits and bloomers were reduced to show a little more of the figure

- By 1920s swimsuits were reduced to one garment with a long top that covered the shorts but many often wore matching stockings.

- In the mid 1920's Vogue was telling readers that 'the newest thing for the sea is a jersey bathing suit as near as a maillot as the unwritten law with permit' - Well I say!

- The first modern 'Miss America' was held in 1921, judging women on their overall body beauty. It ended in a few squabbles among the male judges.

- Men's swimwear followed suit and eventually moved away from knitted fabrics, though many remained in a full body suit.

Annette Kellerman Annette Kellerman


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