Riviera Style


This week I visited the Fashion and Textile Museum in London to see an exhibition about swimwear through the ages. A small but great exhibition, it was packed with great examples of how swimwear and leisurewear for both men and women has dev2eloped over the last 100 years. The collection on display is diverse, from bombshell swimsuits to cover-all burkinis, and shows how both style and fabric technology has improved during the last century.

The exhibition starts with some lovely Victorian all-in-ones. Who wouldn’t want to be seen on the golden sands of Bognor in this little red number? Obviously this must be teamed with stockings, shoes and a cap. For decency reasons, but certainly not practical ones. Men and women wore all-in-ones when the trend of taking the sea air to benefit ones health really took off in the late Victorian period, but given how heavy these costumes would have been when wet, I can’t imagine how anybody could possibly swim in these!

A specially made seashell print swimsuit for a 1950’s beauty contest

Sunbathing became a popular pastime in the Twenties when it was fashionable to have a healthy glow, and as a result swimwear became smaller and more practical to allow more freedom of movement and promote the athletic style of the day. The exhibition shows how knitted woollen suits gave way to elastic and satin and telescopic ruching to suit the everyday swimmer right down to Olympic athletes.

A sample book from 1939 – I need a blue leopard print swimsuit in my life!

I have included a few pictures of my favourite pieces, and I thought the whole exhibition was nicely put together. The information guide is actually your ticket, and is packed with really interesting little details. However this is only on until August 30th so I would plan
your visit very soon! Details on ticket prices and opening times in the link above.

Peter Pan brand swimsuit with original advert, 1953. Still looks so flattering!
1950's 2 piece boned play suit
1950’s 2 piece boned play suit
1930's beach pyjamas
1930’s beach pyjamas


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