Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Charlie's Bathing Suit

ca. 1890-1920

Summer in Lowville in the 1890s through the 1920s was characterized by young boys sporting a worsted California one-piece style suit

They had a cotton ball in each ear to help keep the water out, and they enjoyed the cool water on a hot day.

Many municipal laws stipulated that from in the morning to 8 in the evening, no one was allowed to swim in city waters unless wearing "sufficient garment from neck to knee."

Made of compactly twisted woolen yarn (worsted), the one-piece "California" style suits such as the one shown here tended to be quite heavy. They weighed about nine pounds when wet and had a tendency to fall down. As a result, when two-piece suits were introduced, they became popular. They permitted more freedom to move and had less danger of accidental exposure.

The heavyweight worsted men's bathing suit, whether, owned by an average citizen or by an icon of the 1920s, was worn in creeks, at swimming events and at the local swimming hole.

As can be seen in the photo above, the California one-piece style was most popular between 1918 and 1924. Navy blue was a favored color, with three white stripes above the bottom hem, and it opened by button on one shoulder. Men's bathing suits have come a long way since the 1920s, and one can only wonder, what would they think if they could see us today?

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