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Posts Tagged ‘1920s bathing costumes’

On this beautiful sunny day, I thought that I would post two seaside related snapshots. This group of happy ladies were snapped in the early 1920s somewhere along the Eastern Irish coastline. I love their cloche swimming hats and the little child reaching precariously into the sea in above picture.

I have recently started to follow a blog devoted entirely to beach photographs: Swimming in pictures is based on Ian Phillips’ collection of vintage photographs of people in bathing costumes. It is interesting to note how similar, in both style and composition, beach snapshots were throughout the world.

 

The outfits worn by the ladies splashing about in the Irish sea are remarkably like those in a previous post of mine from another Irish 1920s album. Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums have a short little piece on bathing costumes from this period. Advertisements  from Selfridge’s and Sparkenhoe show the ideal beachwear styles of the 1920s and prove that the Irish swimmers were very much en trend.

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I am going on my holidays tomorrow to County Sligo and hope to have as much fun as the group pictured on this page of a 1920s snapshot album. The family were from middle-class Clontarf and perfectly matched the sector at whom the snapshot camera was marketed. They certainly look like they are enjoying themselves!

Luckily, I have the album in its entirety which allows me to infer much about the family, their friends, interests and concerns. I hate to see album pages being sold separately and removed from their original context. The careful placing together of certain images and the interplay of pages tells us much about the author’s intent. This is explored brilliantly by Barbara Levine in her work Snapshot Chronicles: inventing the American Photo Album.

The bathing attire was right on trend for the 1920s. The women appear to be wearing one-piece costumes called tank suits, a style which was popularized by the Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman. Many of these suits have bold geometric patterns. Bathing caps protected the women’s bobbed hair and mirror the cloche hats of the era.

The pre-Lycra fabric looks like it would definitely sag when wet!

The men’s costumes are also one-piece and the suit at the rear of the picture includes a button closure at the shoulder – a popular design feature during the 1920s.

From elsewhere in the album, I know that the young girl pictured above was called Doreen and that she was about 6 years of age in 1926, dating this snapshot to the late 1920s. I also know that the extended family holidayed in Rossnowlagh and Bundoran, County Donegal, where these photographs might possibly have been taken?

As ever, the snapshots inadvertently capture little details like the girl’s white shoes which are held in the hands of a female relative and the barely visible pioneer pin on the young man’s lapel to the left of this picture. I particularly like the fully suited gentleman who appears to have made no change to his outfit for the seaside trip.

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