Ah, the beach! There is nothing better than rolling up your changing shack, putting on your woolen suit of bloomers, blouse, and overskirt, and frollicking in the waves while clinging to a rope for dear life because who could swim in that outfit?! The Victorians basically invented the beach vacation, but I would say it took a few years to perfect it.
Modesty prevented women from wearing anything that was actually practical for swimming while the men got away with significantly more functional onesie-type get-ups. Women wore full body wool or flannel dresses and so could do little more than romp in the shallows. To model a few of these timeless bathing classics, we have the Victorian’s Secret models.
This model is demonstrating the mobile changing closet. Women (I am assuming only rich ones? Maybe you could rent these like umbrellas?) would have this closet towed out into the waves so they could discreetly get out and swim away from the lecherous eyes of the general public. When done, the dripping dame could hop back into her mobile modesty shack to dry off and change into something more decent.
The colors were not all drab; this one has a cute sailor collar and pretty pinstripe pattern. The bright bonnet makes it easier to spot you when you are drowning — dragged slowly to the briny bottom by your water-logged bloomers and leg o’ mutton sleeves.
Now that’s what I like to see. Strut, Daniel Craig! But please keep yourself covered up – no one in 1890 wants to see your abdomen. Victorian women find the male body horrifying, you know.
Seriously though, Victorian bathing suits for women were extremely cumbersome and impractical, and I wasn’t kidding about the rope bit – here is photographic evidence.
All of this is really an elaborate setup to say that the Victorianachronists will be taking a week long hiatus. See you in a week!