The first ever swimdress
In the 18th century, swimming in the sea was associated with many health benefits. Not only were they right about that, as it turns out women would wear nothing less than a swimdress. The first ever swimdress was a loose open gown with sewn in weights just above the hem. The weights were used to prevent the dress from floating up and to maintain the modesty of women wearing it.
Generally, physical activity in water or getting completely immersed was not considered ladylike and not at all encouraged. This bathing gown, from 1767, belonged to Martha Washington, wife of George Washington (first US president). The fit was loose and it was made from linen in a blue and white checked pattern. In the summers of 1767 and 1769 Martha was paving the way for the swimdress in the mineral springs of Berkeley, West Virginia.
"Generally, physical activity in water or getting completely immersed was not considered ladylike and not at all encouraged."
The swimdress fashion continues within the 19th century and takes the shape of a full on gown, not optimal for swimming, paired with a good old pair of wool stockings. The death of the swimdress was undeniable. That was until...