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June 2015

1920’s Women’s Beach & Swimwear – Photographs

Here’s some beautiful swimwear fashions to inspire you! Please, click on the pictures to get original sources. Have a nice evening!

June 25, 1921. Washington, D.C.
June 25, 1921. Washington, D.C. “Bathing Costume Contest.”
1920's beach ball babe.
1920’s beach ball babe.
Sonia Delaunay Beachwear, 1927
Sonia Delaunay Beachwear, 1927
Washington, D.C., 1920. "Mary Claphet, Irene & Ella Sherer, Mary Facenire." junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery
Washington, D.C., 1920. “Mary Claphet, Irene & Ella Sherer, Mary Facenire.” junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery
Gladys Wagner posing at the beach in San Francisco during the 1920s when she was modeling and dancing on the stage.
Gladys Wagner posing at the beach in San Francisco during the 1920s when she was modeling and dancing on the stage.

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1923. Swimmers at the Wardman Park Hotel pool in Washington.
1923. Swimmers at the Wardman Park Hotel pool in Washington.
June 17, 1922. "Washington Advertising Club bathing costume contest at Tidal Basin." The the winning entry of Miss Anna Niebel, "former Follies girl." junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery
June 17, 1922. “Washington Advertising Club bathing costume contest at Tidal Basin.” The the winning entry of Miss Anna Niebel, “former Follies girl.” junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery
Atlantic City circa 1922. "Four young ladies on a roof." junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery
Atlantic City circa 1922. “Four young ladies on a roof.” junipergallery Fine-Art Prints by Juniper Gallery

1920’s Women’s Beach & Swimwear Pt. 2

Swimwear, like many other aspects of American popular culture during the Jazz Age, was also subject to a number of short-lived, usually ill-conceived fads. Some of the more imaginative novelty bathing suits introduced during the 1920’s were made of badly chosen materials that ranged from rabbit fur to seaweed to wooden barrel staves. While never appropriate for actual swimming, these suits did generate a bit of extra notoriety and attention on America’s beaches. (1)

“Miss Washington in bathing suit.” Evelyn Lewis at the Wardman Park Hotel pool, 1922

Perhaps not surprisingly, the evolution of form-fitting swimwear also caused significant controversy during the 1920’s, as directors of public beaches, resorts, and country clubs implemented strict dress codes for which violations were punishable by fines and, occasionally, even imprisonment. (1)

Chicago, Illinois - Two bathers being escorted off the beach by a police woman - April 1922
Chicago, Illinois – Two bathers being escorted off the beach by a police woman – April 1922
These apologies for skirts endanger the morals of the children. The police must interfere and stop the outrageous proceedings.
THE WASHINGTON POST, 1907
In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning
In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning “abbreviated bathing suits” on beaches, July 12, 1922
The city has no right to tell me how I shall wear my clothes. It is none of their darn business. I will go to jail first.
LOUISE ROSINE, 1921
Chicago policewomen checking for violations of the bathing suit-length laws, 1921
Chicago policewomen checking for violations of the bathing suit-length laws, 1921

Regulations, along with the level of enforcement, varied from beach to beach. Typically, dress codes dictated that trunks (or bloomers) and skirts could rise no higher than so many inches above the knee, and sometimes female bathers were required to wear stocking, usually (but not always) rolled above the knee. (1)

“Smokey” Buchanan from the West Palm Beach police force, measuring the bathing suit of Betty Fringle on Palm Beach, to ensure that it conforms with regulations introduced by the beach censors, 1925

Some public beaches and resorts actually hired “beach censors” to patrol the swimming area in order to maintain order among bathers and enforce dress codes. Chicago’s Clarendon Beach even employed a woman as “beach tailor” who enforced women’s dress codes by stitching um loose armholes and sewing longer, more modest skirts onto too-short bathing suits. Men’s swimwear was also regulated, but it seems that dress codes for men were enforced far less stringently than they were for women. (1)

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2015/05/27/swimsuit-police/

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

Read 1920’s Women’s Beach & Swimwear Pt.1.

1920’s Women’s Beach & Swimwear Pt. 1

Prior to world War l, “bathing costumes”, as they were known, were modest garments made of itchy woollen fabric. Women’s costumes usually consisted of a loose overblouse, a knee-length skirt, and stockings – an outfit barely less voluminous than street wear. Although women’s bathing costumes were certainly not conducive to actual swimming, this actually caused few problems, since recreational swimming was not a tremendously popular activity during the early years of the twentieth century. Still, trying to swim in these bathing costumes proved inordinately difficult. (1)

In 1908, Annette Kellerman, a champion swimmer and later vaudeville and movie star, wore a sleek one piece- piece body stocking into the surf at Revere Beach near Boston and was promptly arrested for indecent exposure. Nevertheless, this risqué one-piece bathing suit, which came to be known as the controversial “Kellerman Suit”, marked the beginning of a dramatic change in women’s swimwear from bulky, unathletic swimming dresses to form-fitting modern bathing suits. (1)

Anna Kellerman wearing what later became known as the
Anna Kellerman wearing what later became known as the “Kellerman Suit”, 1907.

The 1920’s marked the founding of three major bathing suit manufacturers, eventually known as Jantzen, Cole an Catalina, that succeeded in popularizing beach fashion and breaking down older prohibitions on suitable bathing garments. (1) 

Danish immigrant Carl Jantzen, along with his partners John and Roy Zehntbauer, invented a machine that could knit stretchy fabric that was ribbed on both sides. This fabric was much more elastic than ordinary jersey, the fabric most commonly used to make swimwear, and it clung on every curve of the body. In 1921, Jantzen began developing one-piece bathing suits that looked as if they were actually two pieces. (1) 

A beautifully illustrated Jantzen ad from 1921. #vintage #1920s #summer #beach #swimsuit #ad
A beautifully illustrated Jantzen ad from 1921.

These tubular maillot suits, sometimes called “California-style” suits, consisted of a scoop-necked, sleeveless top that was sewn at the waist to a pair of trunks. Often these unisex suits were embellished with bold, colourful stripes across the chest, hip and thigh. Jantzen marketed these suits with matching swimming sock and caps topped with a pompon. But because swimming was still not a particularly popular recreational activity, Jantzen realizes that the market for swimwear was relatively limited. To encourage Americans to swim and therefore, to buy more swimsuits, Jantzen founded the Jantzen Swimming Association in 1926 and immediately launched a national campaign called “Learn to Swim”, which offered free swimming lessons across the country, certificates of completion, local competitions, and endorsements from champion swimmers. By 1930, Jantzen was the world’s largest producer of bathing suits, selling more than 1.5 million suits a year. (1)

Loretta Young in a bathing suit ad for Jantzen swimwear 1920s.
Loretta Young in a bathing suit ad for Jantzen swimwear 1920s.

While Jantzen’s Oregon-based company specialized in athletic-looking suits that were actually suitable for swimming, Fred Cole’s rival company in Los Angeles focused on creating dramatic fashion suits that were designed primarily for glamorous sunbathing. In 1925, Cole began marketing the “Prohibition Suit”, which had a low-cut neckline and tiny skirt that was shockingly revealing for the time. (1)

Catalina swimwear, also based in California, offered America’s bathing beauties a range of swimsuits that were sexier than Jantzen’s but not nearly as daring as Cole’s. Catalina’s “Rib Stitch 5” suit, for example, introduced the nearly backless bathing suits that became immensely popular among women in the late 1920’s. Catalina also served as the official swimsuit provider for the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. (1)

Atlantic City's bathing beauties - 1922
Atlantic City’s bathing beauties – 1922

Source:

(1) The 1920’s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

1920’s Women’s Sportswear – Photographs

Here’s some amazing ladies wearing their cool outfits for sports practice in the 1920’s. Follow my pinterest page and tumblr for more! Enjoy! x

Members of the Chicago Daily News bowling team, 1924
Members of the Chicago Daily News bowling team, 1924
sport 09
Amazing golf attire! You can definitely see here that these culottes were made with pleated legs to look like a skirt.
Tennis players Helen Wills-Moody and Helen Jacobs walking onto the court at Wimbledon in 1929.
Tennis players Helen Wills-Moody and Helen Jacobs walking onto the court at Wimbledon in 1929.
Girls Basketball team 1926.
Girls Basketball team 1926.
November 10, 1922. “Girls’ rifle team.”
November 10, 1922. “Girls’ rifle team.”
July 29, 1922. Newark, New Jersey. “Girl athletes to sail on Aquitania. Stine, Sabie, Gilliland, Batson, Snow.” Contestants bound for Paris, France, and the first international track meet for women.
July 29, 1922. Newark, New Jersey. “Girl athletes to sail on Aquitania. Stine, Sabie, Gilliland, Batson, Snow.” Contestants bound for Paris, France, and the first international track meet for women.
Suzanne Lenglen, Julie Vlasto 1926
Suzanne Lenglen, Julie Vlasto 1926

1920’s Women’s Sportswear

One reason for changing attitudes towards women’s sports was the popularity of certain sports. As early as 1921, Alice de Linière informed readers about the multiplication of women’s tennis, golf, grass hockey, and soccer clubs. Her attitude towards these sports wavered between the old anxiety about the deleterious effect of exercise exertion on women’s reproductive organs and the new ideal of a flexible, youthful body. She resolved the conflict be concluding that “only rationally practised sports can develop and maintain the suppleness and elegance of the figure and the youth of the body”.(1)

Maureen Orcutt swinging her golf club, 1920's
Maureen Orcutt swinging her golf club, 1920’s

Additionally, sports have their fashions, their specialized, slightly boyish fashion. The addendum identifies the main reason for fashion magazines’ interest in women’s sports: Haute Couture and confection were promoting a whole new line of women’s clothing called sports clothes.(1)

sport 01

Designers largely appropriated men’s fashions to create women’s outdoor clothing, including serge or tweed knickers to wear while hiking and flared jodhpurs to wear while horseback riding. Women golfers wore pleated, knee-length skirts topped with patterned sweaters and flat, oxford-style, rubber-sole shoes. (2)

April 18, 1925.
April 18, 1925. “Miss Louise Ireland & Miss Helen Marye.” wearing jodhpurs.

Culottes, with pleated legs that hung together to look like skirts, made skiing possible for respectable women in the 1920’s. Although pleats obscured separated legs, a few fashion reporters called them “semi-masculine”, and Ramon Fernandez called them a “symbol of feminism”. By 1928, ever major couture house showed sports culottes. In a short-lived journal called ‘La Femme, le Sport, la Mode’, Jane Saint – Roman proclaimed “this rather masculine outfit no longer frightens anyone”. Although wearing “culotte skirts” to bicycle in the city was still associated with modern women, now women on bicycles were “an everyday feature of our life”. (1)

Example of women's sports culottes, circa 1926
Example of women’s sports culottes, circa 1926

Tennis players sported flat, rubber-soled shoes, white hose, and short, slim dresses made of white rayon, cotton, or silk. (2)

Women’s Tennis Team 1920’s
Women’s Tennis Team 1920’s

Professional tennis player Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938) affected clothing styles. Lenglen is widely recognised as “the best woman tennis player ever”. Yet all reporters paid as much attention to her chic as to her techniques. Women’s magazines in particular commented upon her mid-calf and short-sleeved outfits and her collaboration with the couturier Jean Patou. Until Suzanne Lenglen arrived at Wimbledon after the Great War, the major innovations in ladies tennis wear had been the elimination of bustles and hats. Lenglen’s appearance at Wimbledon in a Patou chemise dress, without a corset or petticoat, “influenced all future tennis fashion”. As director of the sports department at Patou’s house, Lenglen proposed a knee-length, pleated tennis skirt, which became the prototype for sports skirts. (1)

Suzanne Lenglen - first female tennis celebrity and flamboyant trendsetter. Overcoming childhood illness, she became a champion tennis player. Lenglen won 31 championship titles between 1914 and 1926. Chief among her titles were the Wimbledon singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. She also earned gold medals at the 1920 Olympics.
Suzanne Lenglen, October 1926

By 1925, Patou, Premet, Lucien Lelong, and two other couture houses had developed special sports lines. Although Patou was subsequently associated with dresses with natural waistlines, fuller skirts, and longer hemlines, he opened the first sports boutique. Similarly, Lanvin, Vionnet, and Shciaparelli, remembered today for other kinds of clothing, showed many sports outfits in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.(1)

Suzanne Lenglen shows how to Dress for Tennis. Vogue Dec 01 1926 - Jean Patou creations
Suzanne Lenglen shows how to Dress for Tennis. Vogue Dec 01 1926 – Jean Patou creations

For ordinary casual wear, women wore long soft blouses that were often banded or belted at the natural waist. Women also adopted the middy blouse, which resembled the tip half of a sailor’s uniform and was a traditional style for children’s clothing. (2) Learn more about the middy top here.

May 14, 1925. Washington, D.C.
May 14, 1925. Washington, D.C. “Western High School fencing team.” wearing middy tops.

The vest-style blouse, patterned after a man’s vest, had long or short sleeves and a notched collar. These blouses could be worn either outside or tucked into the waistband of a skirt or knickers. Another man’s style, the lumberjack shirt, made of wool plaid and typically worn with knickers, also found its way into women’s casual wardrobes. In cool weather, women (like men) donned colourful Fair Isle sweaters, popularized in 1922 by Edward, Prince of Wales, or coat sweaters, introduced by Coco Chanel, which are cardigan-style sweaters with a high shawl collar, pockets, and sometimes a belt. (2)

Glenna Collett Vare photographed during the 1925 Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship wearing a Fair Isle style jumper.

Sources:

(1) Dressing Modern Frenchwomen: Marketing Haute Couture, 1919-1939 by Mary Lynn Stewart, 2008

(2) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

1920’s Evening Dresses – Photographs

Here’s some extraordinary evening gowns from the 1920’s. Enjoy and have a lovely week!

Evening dress, Flatow and Schädler, ca. 1927. Crepe de Chine with velvet, chiffon, and gold lamé.
Evening dress, Flatow and Schädler, ca. 1927. Crepe de Chine with velvet, chiffon, and gold lamé.
Evening Dress, Vogue (Paris) December 15, 1920
Evening Dress, Vogue (Paris) December 15, 1920
Les Modes (Paris) May 1921
Les Modes (Paris) May 1921 “Venus” Robe du Soir par Lucien Lelong

evening dress 9

Madeleine Vionnet, Dancer Irene Castle, 1922
Madeleine Vionnet, Dancer Irene Castle, 1922
A model wearing an evening dress at the 'Lucille' fashion parade at Hyde Park Hotel.
A model wearing an evening dress at the ‘Lucille’ fashion parade at Hyde Park Hotel.
Dress by Lucille, 1923
Dress by Lucille, 1923

See more here and here.

1920’s Dresses Pt. 2

EVENING DRESSES

During the 1920’s, lavish evening gowns became an obvious symbol of the wearer’s wealth and social standing. Made of luxurious fabrics such as velvet, satin, crepe de chine, or silver and gold lamé, glittered with rhinestones, even fluttered with fringe. Formal evening gowns would have been appropriate attire for balls, the opera, the theatre, elegant dinner parties, and upscale restaurants. (1)

Real vintage 1920's dresses from metmuseum.org
Real vintage 1920’s dresses from metmuseum.org

Gowns were designed in the basic shape of a sleeveless tube, either deep U- or V-shaped necklines or high-cut, wide, boat-style necklines. After about 1926, plunging necklines were cut not into the fronts but into the back of gowns, and women sometimes draped long necklaces of beads or faux pearls down their exposed backs. (1)

Actress Alden Gay wearing an evening dress by Chanel, 1924. Photographed by Edward Steichen.
Actress Alden Gay wearing an evening dress by Chanel, 1924. Photographed by Edward Steichen.

During the late 1920’s, French designer Madeleine Vionnet pioneered dress design using the “bias cut” (a term used to describe fabric cut on the diagonal) to soften the severe angular shapes of fashionable dresses. Bias-cut skirts, collars and sleeves fell in delicate folds and clung gracefully to a woman’s figure. (1)

Edward Steichen, Madeleine Vionnet dress, 1929
Edward Steichen, Madeleine Vionnet dress, 1929

There were enthusiastic crazes for new kinds of dance music like the tango and the Charleston from the 1910’s onwards. Dancers reveled in the upbeat sound of this new music, and the 1920’s came to be known as the “roaring twenties”, or the “jazz age”. Garments with materials shown off to their full effect by dance movements, such as sequins and fringes, became very popular. (2)

evening dress 6

The exoticism of the 1920’s was influenced by the many cultures that had reached Western Europe: Orientalism that had continued from the 1910’s, an Egyptian style spurred by the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb (1922), and the Mexican craze influenced by Aztec art. (2) Amazing and luxurious exotic evening dresses were the perfect party attire of the decade.

Paul Poiret, evening dress with Egyptian-style motifs, 1923.
Paul Poiret, evening dress with Egyptian-style motifs, 1923.

Please follow link to learn more about 1920’s Day Dresses.

Sources:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne, 2000

(2) Fashion. A History from the 18th to the 20th century by Akiki Fukai, 2006

1920’s Day Dresses – Photographs

Good morning! Please enjoy some of my favourite day dresses pictures from the 1920’s. Have a nice weekend! x

Photo by James Abbe, 1920's
Photo by James Abbe, 1920’s

day dress 4

Washington, D.C., 1927. "Girls with apples."
Washington, D.C., 1927. “Girls with apples.”

day dress 6

day dress 7

Circa 1920. Stage and film actress Grace Valentine and her Packard Twin Six roadster.
Circa 1920. Stage and film actress Grace Valentine and her Packard Twin Six roadster.
Flapper Daughter with Mom French real photo postcard, 1920's.
Flapper Daughter with Mom French real photo postcard, 1920’s.

See more here and here.

1920’s Dresses Pt. 1

DAY DRESSES

During the day, stylish women wore afternoon dresses to luncheons, teas, matinees, and daytime dances. Sometimes called “tea-gowns”, these dresses featured long flowing sleeves in the early years of the 1920’s. (1)

A Posh Picnic, c.1926
A Posh Picnic, c.1926

By 1925, though, the afternoon frock had become much more streamlines and slender, with a knee-length skirt and short or fitted sleeves. Afternoon dresses came in a variety of bright colours and varied patterns. Often they were adorned with narrow belts, sashes, bows, or artificial flowers at the dropped waist. (1)

Outfits to be seen in for the racing season, 1928
Outfits to be seen in for the racing season, 1928

In 1926, a stylish addition to afternoon dresses was the “gypsy girdle” – a wide sash fastened over the hips and accented with a clasp studded with rhinestones or other faux jewels. (1)

Vogue - 1926 . by Edward Steichen
Vogue – 1926 . by Edward Steichen

An even more casual element of a woman’s wardrobe was the morning dress, also called the house dress. These informal frocks were usually made of cotton fabric in various striped, plaid, or checked patterns, and women wore them in the home while they did their domestic chores. (1)

House dresses, Sears Catalogue 1922
House dresses, Sears Catalogue 1922

House dresses loosely followed the fashion of more formal dresses, and by 1925, they were shorter and slimmer than they had been before. Mail order catalogues featured page after page of these house dresses, which indicated they were popular and necessary component of a middle-class woman’s wardrobe. The 1927 Sears catalogue even featured an entire wrapround fronts that could be reversed when they became soiled. Needless to say, were not the kinds of dresses typically seen in up-scale fashion magazines of the day. (1)

Please have a look at my 1920’s skirts post to learn more about the 1920’s hemline.

Source:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne, 2000

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