Butterick beach costumes or bathing suits in Delineator, July-August 1920, page 101.
I’ve been working on the year 1920, which contains some surprises for me. If you find a fringed “1920s flapper” dress with narrow shoulder straps in a thrift store, it’s probably a costume from the 1960s or later. But evening dresses held up by straps were around in 1920. (More about that in a later post.) The bathing suit pictured (above center) is part of that trend.
While we’re looking at all three suits, notice the different choices for stockings and beach shoes. Each has its own hat, too. First, Butterick 2442:
Butterick “beach or bathing suit” 2442, Delineator, 1920.
The label shows that even the editors of Delineator realized that this outfit might not be suitable for use in the water.
Those pocket-like openings would fill with water and inflict a lot of “drag” on the swimmer, even if they are open at the bottom.
This suit is truly sleeveless. The exaggerated hip width reflects the dresses worn that summer.
Strap-top bathing suit No. 2440 also has a lot of fabric in its dress and bloomers, but the shoulders and upper arms are as bare as in a modern swimsuit.
Butterick bathing-suit 2440, summer of 1920.
Button straps and a straight band form the top of this suit.
“This being the same cut as the evening bodice does away with the uneven showing of coloring if one tans and wears an evening dress.”
This is a very early 1920s’ reference to a suntan being desirable, and to the bare skin revealed in a strap-top evening dress:
Singer Anna Case, photographed for Delineator, February 1920.
The third bathing suit for women is more conservative (for sizes up to 46″ bust.)
Butterick bathing-suit 2445, Delineator, summer of 1920.
Rows of parallel stitching were often seen during the WW I years. The sleeves are also conservative, compared to the other — sleeveless — suits.
That great hat seems to be included.
Bathing suits for younger girls were also illustrated.
Bathing suits for teens and little girls also showed the bare-versus-conservative styling.
The one on the left resembles adult suit 2240, with straps, bare arms, and a belt that passes through the dress.
Styles for girls echo styles for women. 1920. No. 2438 was for “misses”/teens and also for ladies. No. 1718 was for girls 2 to 14 years old.
I have labeled this “circa” 1920, because the small girl’s suit is No. 1718, indicating that it was first issued in an earlier series. Note how the sleeves and parallel stitching echo women’s conservative bathing suit No. 2445.
Taffeta was a recommended fabric for most of these bathing suits. Don’t forget your parasol  or sunscreen  !
For bathing suits from other years, use the search term “in the swim” in the search box at top right.