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This is what Edwardians used to wear on the beach in 1906… a little too stifling …

Neil Patrick

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In the West, in the 19th-century women wore a bathing gown in the water. These were loose ankle-length full-sleeve chemise-type gown made of wool or flannel, so that modesty or decency was not threatened.They were long dresses of fabrics that would not become transparent when wet, with weights sewn into the hems so that they would not rise up in the water. The men’s swim suit, a rather form-fitting wool garment with long sleeves and legs similar to long underwear, was developed and would change little for a century.

These photos taken by Edward Linley Sambourne capture the ambiance from the beaches in Britain and Europe in 1906.

A couple on board the channel ferry, between England and continental Europe.

A couple on board the channel ferry, between England and continental Europe.

 

A woman adjusts her hair on the beach at Folkestone.

A woman adjusts her hair on the beach at Folkestone.

 

A woman enters a bathing machine after a swim.

A woman enters a bathing machine after a swim.

 

A woman on the beach at Ostende, Belgium. June 23, 1906

A woman on the beach at Ostende, Belgium. June 23, 1906

In the 19th century, the woman’s double suit was common, comprising a gown from shoulder to knees plus a set of trousers with leggings going down to the ankles. In the first half of 19th century the top became knee-length while an ankle-length drawer was added as a bottom. By the second half of 19th century, in France, the sleeves started to vanish, the bottom became shorter to reach only the knees and the top became hip-length and both became more form fitting. In the 1900s women wore wool dresses on the beach that were made of up to 9 yards (8.2 m) of fabric

A woman on the beach at Ostende.

A woman on the beach at Ostende.

 

A woman uses a bathing machine at the beach at Ostende. July 24,1906

A woman uses a bathing machine at the beach at Ostende. July 24,1906

 

Another woman uses a bathing machine. She also has her hair in a scarf. 1906

Another woman uses a bathing machine. She also has her hair in a scarf. 1906

 

Crossing the channel on a ferry. This woman has a very large bustle.

Crossing the channel on a ferry. This woman has a very large bustle.

 

On the promenade at Folkestone.

On the promenade at Folkestone.

 

She wears a gingham blouse and a flat crowned straw hat.July 23,1906

She wears a gingham blouse and a flat crowned straw hat.July 23,1906

 

The beach at Weymouth.

The beach at Weymouth.

 

The woman of the couple on the ferry, wearing a masculine-looking coat and hat.

The woman of the couple on the ferry, wearing a masculine-looking coat and hat.

 

These two women secure hats using scarves under their chins.

These two women secure hats using scarves under their chins.

 

Three women hold onto their hats in the breeze at Folkestone.

Three women hold onto their hats in the breeze at Folkestone.

EDWARD LINLEY SAMBOURNE / LIBRARY TIME MACHINE, ROYAL BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA