History of Women’s Swimwear and Sports Fashions

History of Women’s Swimwear and Sports Fashions
This entry is part 3 of 32 in the series CheeseCake Pinup Magazine - 1953

This article claims that Annette Kellerman, who started swimming to overcome infantile paralysis (Polio), was groundbreaking in making more practical swimwear acceptable and invented her own style of one piece swimsuit.

On this page are pictures of famous early 20th century swimmers including Annette Kellerman, Gertrude Ederle (the first woman to swim across the English Channel), Eleanor Holm (Aquacade star), Esther Williams (movie mermaid), and Florence Chadwick (who in 1952-53 beat Ederle’s record).

The next section gets into the history of sports education and fashions for women on college campus. Elmira NY college girls played ten pins in the 1870s, and the 1910 ideal exercises consisted of balancing candles on your back (for posture) and camping outdoors. Then, to show the evolution of sports fashions, there’s side by side pictures of women playing basketball in the early 1900s vs the 1950s. Underneath that, is a photo of 1920s gals fencing while wearing silk stockings and baggy sweaters.

Did you know that shorts for women were invented in the 1930s?

Neither did I! This article asserts that Amelia Bloomer didn’t invent bloomers, she merely wore them, and although they didn’t ever become fashionable on the street, they were a big advance in women’s sportswear until shorts were invented in the 1930s… Shorts gradually made their way out of the gym, thanks to campus fashions becoming general (eventhough in 1953 Radcliffe barred short shorts, but allowed long shorts).

These next few pages contain pictures of the original bloomer, women at Wellesley rowing in 1904, women wearing knickers for hiking in 1921, formal calisthenics in 1917 vs 1950s, a woman from the 40s wearing capris, and 1950s women in pants and shorts.

Series Navigation<< The future of the pinup modelHistory of Beauty Contests and the Ideal Female Measurements of the 1950s >>

About The Author

Jessica Kay Murray

Professional WordPress nerd. Lover of all things older than me. I am fascinated by early 1900s labor and feminist history, and have a sporadic addiction to reading nonfiction about those things on Archive.org. I scan old photographs and ephemera when I get really super bored. On Etsy I sell vintage clothing that I got as part of an interesting trade deal a few years ago.

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