Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Victorian Bathing Suit

We are finally getting some warm, rain-free days around here. We're talking, sunny, hot, 30°C days, according to Meteomedia (I have no idea of the equivalent in °F, I only use that type of temperature measurement for my oven). Honestly, it's the third day in a row that I'm wearing shorts. Crazy, eh?

This introduces one of the numerous items on my Wishlist, in this case, a Victorian Bathing Suit. How does a long, woolen dark swimming ensemble fit with the hot days I've mentioned, you might wonder? Why, swimming, of course! (Duh! That simple.) You see, I have a dream: it doesn't come close to World Peace, but in this dream, a group of costumers show up at the beach in their Victorian bathing suits and freak all the other bathers out of their Speedos and bikinis*.

1870's Fashion Plate

Ever since I first saw Trystan's Vampire's Day at the Beach bathing suit, I've wanted to make myself one. After all, what better way to hide a body shape you dislike than wearing many layers of fabric? (Works better than spandex for that purpose.) It's also great to protect one's fair skin from the sun.

So lately, I've been looking for some reference pictures in order to make myself just such a bathing suit and I found the following antique at Vintage Textile:

There are many, many detailed pictures of this bathing suit on that page, so I suggest you visit it if you're interested in making such a project.

I also found one in the McCord Museum Images Collection:

Bathing suit, 1890-1900, 19th century, Gift of Mrs. Mary L. Duclos, © McCord Museum

I think it will be fairly easy to figure out a pattern for this type of bathing suit (really, it's just a one-piece suit with a detachable skirt), but if like I often do, you feel too lazy to draw your own pattern, you can always use Folkwear Pattern, #253 Vintage Bathing Costume.

Now I don't know yet if I would make mine in wool or in cotton, but I think I'd go for the Navy with white trim look. Maybe I'd add just a little red in the trim for a splash of colour. Although, I have seen some very colourful recreations that looked awesome...

So what do you all say, shall we set a date for a beach picnic next summer to see my dream* come true?


  1. And I wonder where you took that idea ;) ;) ;)

    Even posted the engraving I used to do the costumes :p

  2. Actually, I've had it for years! And it was finally summer that day, so...

  3. I think the older bathing suits would be a perfect to compliment the "burkini" controversy. As someone who burns walking across the parking lot to the pool, I'd wear either the swim dresses or the burkinis as long as they were made of updated materials that breathed and dried quickly. They would be perfect for me and I would not care what anyone else thought! Besides, the swim dresses are really cute!