Bathing suit patterns appeared in Butterick’s Delineator magazine in both May and June, so there are many images to share.
Here, the central suit, 3812, has simple checked trim to match its pleated skirt…
… but the alternate views show it with optional embroidery or soutache braid trim, or looking like a double breasted coat. The under layer also shows square, rounded, or high neckline variations as dotted lines:
“Princess effect… exceptionally graceful model … the short sleeves …are more practical for the swimmer.” [No kidding!] Apparently the bloomers alone could be made from 2 yards of 36 inch material, with another 7/8 yard of a different material for the under-body/under bodice.
These four 1910 patterns include a skirt over bloomers with a bodice, and dresses over bloomers, with or without an under-bodice.
Bathing suit 3788 is gathered to a yoke.
The bloomers for Butterick 3839 are not attached to a bodice — they have their own waistband.
In June, Delineator showed a fourth bathing-suit for women (3925) and a bathing suit for men or boys (3870.) Men got to wear a lot less, while women who actually tried to swim were in danger of sinking under the weight of all that fabric.
“This is the kind of bathing-suit (3925) which will appeal to a great many women, both those who go into the water for the real sport of the thing, and those who spend hours on the beach sitting around or promenading up and down…. The cord or belt which is fastened around the waist gives the effect of a blouse and short skirt…. Our English cousins favor the long sleeve and high neck when in bathing and so use the shield with the high collar. Here in America, however, women usually prefer a slightly open neck and either puff sleeves or just sleeve caps. The separate bloomers are arranged to be made with bands or elastics at the lower part. Flannel [i.e., wool flannel,] mohair, serge and taffeta are the best material for bathing suits….” [Butterick patterns were also sold in England.]
Men, on the other hand, wore one layer of fabric and no sleeves:
The CF placket closing would hide buttons, not a zipper. The fabric could be flannel (nice, water-absorbing wool) or “Stockinget [sic]” or serge. A wet, knit suit with no lining would be quite revealing when wet. Men and boys had long been accustomed to swimming in the nude, so this simple, often sleeveless bathing suit was a concession to mixed bathing.
“Swimming was first included in the Olympics in 1896, but has only been open to women since 1912.” Think about competitive swimming in a water-logged wool swimsuit! (Kind of like swimming in a cardigan sweater….) What’s that saying about “everything a woman does must be done twice as well…?”
The Vintage Traveler is making a Timeline of Bathing Suits. Click here. (And try to imagine just staying afloat in those Victorian ones!)