Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Sports clothing; Beachwear; Bathing suits


Wool, soutache


1904. Woman’s one-piece bathing suit of navy wool with white soutache trim, closing in front, with short sleeves and short pant legs, and a separate short skirt buttoning to the waist.

The main bathing suit is made of four pieces: two front panels with three knife pleats each to shape the garment to the body, and two back panels with a center-back seam and one knife pleat each. Each panel is cut in one piece from shoulder to shorts hem, there is no waist seam join. An interior waistband of heavy brown cotton, 4.1 cm / 1.63 in. wide, is sewn in place to support the four buttons attached at center front, center back, and each side for the separate button-on skirt. The bathing suit opens in front with four large flat buttons from waistband to the base of the rounded collar. Short puff sleeves with a seam at the top and another at the bottom have all their fullness contained along the top of the scye with gathers, and their cuffs are channels for drawstring ties so that they can be snugged to the arm. Similarly, the shorts have a drawstring in their hems as well.

The skirt is one width of the same fabric with its single seam at center front, hidden by the folds of the skirt. It is pleated to a 5.7 cm / 2.25 in. wide waistband lined with denim, which has five buttonholes spaced along it at center back, the sides, and one at each end in front. When attached to the suit, the buttonholes at both left and right sides of the skirt go over the same center-front button.

The bathing suit is trimmed with narrow white soutache, sewn in close double rows to edge the collar, buttonhole placket, skirt waistband, and skirt hem. Unlined. Machine-sewn.


Bust: 96.5 cm / 38 in.
Waist: 73.7 cm / 29 in.
Hem: 186.7 cm / 73.5 in.
Shorts inseam: 25.4 cm / 10 in.
Skirt length: 58.4 cm / 23 in.
Overall length: 96.5 cm / 38 in.


Gift of Florence Woodward. Likely worn by the donor’s mother, Florence True Woodward (1872-1944).

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Women's bathing suits, Swimsuits, Swimwear, 1904, Berlin, New Hampshire, United States, One-piece bathing suits, Wool, Navy blue (color), Soutache trim, White (color), Short sleeves, Puff sleeves, Rounded collar, Short pant legs, Short skirt, Knife pleats, Buttons, Waistband, Cotton, Brown (color), Denim, Machine-sewn, Woodward (donor)


item origin