The knit bathing suit illustrated in this ad for Luxite Hose is considerably more revealing than the suits that could be made from Butterick patterns in 1917. Delineator, June 1917, page 50.
A friend once gave me a bathing suit as a birthday gift, with the explanation, “The swimsuit isn’t the real present. The real present is that now you don’t have to go through the agony of shopping for a swimsuit.” She was right. Getting a glimpse of my aged, fish-belly white thighs in a department store’s three-way mirror is never the highlight of my summer.
Butterick bathing suits for June, 1917. Top of page 64, Delineator magazine.
On the other hand, even though these bathing suits from one hundred years ago would cover my thighs, I doubt that they would be flattering in any other way.
Butterick bathing suit patterns from Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.
I always enjoy seeing multiple versions of a pattern; most of these suits were illustrated in two ways in June of 1917 and in another two ways in July. They are all Butterick patterns from Delineator magazine. It’s also interesting to see the line drawings that show alternate views and the under-layer, which is often lost in vintage bathing suits.
Butterick 9201, a bathing suit for 1917
One version of Butterick 9201 from June 1917.
A sleeveless version of Butterick bathing suit 9201. Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.
A third version of Butterick 9201, July 1917, Delineator, page 53.
A fourth, striped, version of Butterick 9201, from Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.
This view from June 1917 shows the bloomers attached to an underbodice, or underbody, which was worn under the “blouse” of Butterick 9201.
All four versions have ruffled pockets. I won’t show descriptions of all four versions, but the basic information is contained in this one.
The fabrics and colors only apply to the sleeveless, square-necked version. Other versions suggested were purple, navy, scarlet, or green, in wool jersey, satin, or taffeta. The pattern was available in sizes 30 to 44 inches bust measure.
Butterick 9219, a bathing suit from 1917
The striped bathing outfit is Butterick pattern 9219 as shown in Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.
A sleeveless version of Butterick 9219. “You can have it show jaunty bloomers underneath or have it cover them…. The bloomers are sewed to an underbody so there is no danger of accidents.”
Butterick 9291 pictured in Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.
Another version of Butterick 9219, July 1917. She wears black stockings and bathing shoes; the “unusual and becoming cap” was included.
Other views of Butterick 9219.
This view of Butterick 9219 shows the yoked bloomers attached to an underbody.
Various wool or silk fabrics were suggested. Although serge and silk poplin are mentioned, cotton is not, with the exception of “brilliantine,” a wool-and-cotton or mohair-and-cotton blend.
Butterick 9237, a “bathing-suit” from 1917
Butterick bathing suit pattern 9237, June 1917. This is the shorter version. Note her rolled stockings.
Butterick 9237 shown with a striped skirt long enough to cover the bloomers, Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.
Coin-sized dots and white lattice on the sleeves are unique details for this blue and white version of No. 9237. Butterick pattern from 1917. Cap pattern included.
Alternate views of Butterick 9237.
Girls’ bathing costume, Butterick 9240, from 1917.
This bathing suit pattern, Butterick 9240, was available for girls 2 to 14 years old. Delineator, June 1917.
“If the child is very small the gathered or plaited straight skirt need not be worn.”
Butterick 9240 illustrated on an older girl. Delineator, July, 1917, p. 53.
Bathing suit for girls 2 to 14, Butterick 9240, from 1917.
Description of Butterick child’s bathing suit No. 9240, July 1917. Delineator.
How anyone, much less a child, was expected to swim in one of these bathing suits once it was wet and waterlogged is a mystery to me. The pockets must have been great for collecting seashells — or filling with sand and water and dragging you down ….