Swimwear

Styles in women’s swimwear changed dramatically between 1910 and 1940, becoming more and more revealing.

In 1910 bathing costumes were still in two separate pieces, a tunic top and long bathing knickers. They were often shapeless and covered as much of the body as possible. Water-absorbent uncomfortable materials like wool were used, which became heavy when wet.

Emily Tinne wore the first bathing costume displayed here on her honeymoon in Culdaff, County Donegal, Ireland, in July 1910. She and Philip stayed there in a house owned by Philip’s father. Later, they took their children there for many happy family holidays.

By the 1920s swimwear had become much more fitted to the body, thanks to the increasing use of lighter, more stretchy fabrics like machine-knitted cotton jersey. Gradually, it became acceptable for women to show more of their bodies while swimming or sun-bathing, as can be seen from the style of the later bathing costume shown here.

These items were all exhibited in the 2006 exhibition A Passion for Fashion: a Liverpool's lady's wardrobe| at the Walker Art Gallery.