Seaside Resort Clothing: France


Figure 1.--This 1886 drawing from the French fashion magazine "Les Journal des Infantes" shows the formal clothes that were once worn to the beach in France. Clearly the sailor sdtyle is very important, one boy wears a sailor suit and the other a sailor dress. Thevchild in the middle is a boy and wears a kilt--hardly what we would consider to be appropriate beachwear. None of the children here wear bathing costumes which did exist by the 1880s.

The geography of France puts the population within easy range of a wide range of different beaches. France has numerous fashionable beach resorts. And unlike other countries, beach goers can choose from both Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches. France is noted for its Mediteranean beaches, but also has Atlantic and Channel beaches. Of course the Meditteranean beaches were substantially warmer than the Atlantic and North Sea beaches where the water is what might be called bracing and the waves can be rough. Beach resorts also began to become popular in France in the late 18th century. I have little information on developments in France. however, because of my inability to access French sources. There were many important seaside resports in the 19th century. Some images do provide insights into beachwear. Like England, fashions appear to our modern eye to have been very formal, hardly suitable for what we now consider to be beachwear.

French Seaside Resorts

The geography of France puts the population within easy range of a wide range of different beaches. France has numerous fashionable beach resorts. And unlike other countries, beach goers can choose from both Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches. France is noted for its Mediteranean beaches, but also has Atlantic and Channel beaches. Of course the Meditteranean beaches were substantially warmer than the Atlantic and North Sea beaches where the water is what might be called bracing and the waves can be rough. Italy has Mediteranean beaches, but I have noted less discussion of them. I'm unsure how French families chose their beach resorts. The Medetierranean beaches would seem an obcious choice, at least to modern beach goers. The Artlantic beaches, however, have their own special appeal, nut primarily to the French. Foreign visitors mostly head for the Meditewrranean. One popular Atlantic coast beach resort is Arachon. A reader mentions Vierville-sur-Mer (Normandy). It is better known to history as Omaha Beach.

Chronology

Beach resorts as in Britain began to become popular in France in the late 18th century. I have little information on developments in France, however, because of my inability to access French sources or on popular fashions during the 18th century. For much of the century there were no specialized children's clothes meaning that there was no children's beachwear. In fact there was probably little in the way of specialized beachwear for adults. There were many important seaside resports in the 19th century. Some images do provide insights into beachwear. Like England, fashions appear to our modern eye to have been very formal, hardly suitable for what we now consider to be beachwear. Bathing costumes were not immediately developed. Photograhic images show that specialized bathing costumes did not begin to appear until the 1890s and the turn of the century. No boys' outfit outfit was more popular for the seaside than sailor outfits. In the early part of the century there seems to have been more wading than swiming. Boys wore their broad-brimmed sailor hats, sometimes turning up the brims, especilly by the 1910s. Boys uually wore their middy blouses with bloomer-type knickers without shoes and stockings. For more serous wading they might roll uo their knicker legs. More casual styles for the beach did not become popular until after the turn of the century, especially after World War I (1914-18). After the War, actual bathing costumes or swim suits appear much more commonly than before the War.

Garments

The clothing styles worn by French boys at the beach have changed greatly over time. Stange as it may seem to modern readers, suits were commonly worn at beach resorts. For oys sailor suits were he most common. We also note other styles like Norfolk suits. Sailor suits, especially white suits, in the late 19th and early 20th century were one of the most popular styles for many years. Most boys wore sailor and other suits ith bloomer knickers. Sailor caps and hays seemed to be every where. Many more formal casual styles were worn until after World War I, including more modern looking bathing suits.







HBC





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main French activities page]
[Return to the Main seaside country page]
[Return to the Main seaside page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Bibliographies] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Literary] [Countries]
[Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Sailor suits] [Sailor hats] [Buster Brown suits]
[Eton suits] [Rompers] [Tunics] [Smocks] [Pinafores]




Created: December 18, 1999
Last updated: 3:07 AM 4/10/2018