Swimming Costumes and Suits: Fabrics

Figure 1.--Wool continued to be used for swim suits until after World War I when a variety of sunthetic fibers and blends came into use. These American teenagers are wearing wool swimsuits in the 1920s.

Quite a range of fabrics have been used, including fabrics that seem entirely unsuitable like wool. Knitting magazines often had patterns for children's bathng suits using wool yarn. A reader tells us, "Wool does not absorb water in the same way that cotton does. So it would not drag down, lose its shape the way cotton does and that is why wool was used." We have seen, however, these old bathing suits that look all soggy and hanging own when the person comes out of the water. Our reader tells us, "Yes, but cotton was even worse, you can look it up, cotton absorbs more water than wool which is why diapers were made out of cotton and the diaper covers called soakers were made out of wool." This is why after World War II we begin to see bathing suits being made out of blended fabrics with synthetic material. When these suits became available, wool suits quickly disappeared. A reader tells us that latex was especially important. Clothing manufacturrs began using latex in the late 1930s. After the War a range of other fabrics came into use. Stnthetic fibers did not ansorb water like cotton and wool.


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Created: 1:14 AM 5/4/2008
Last updated: 1:14 AM 5/4/2008