Wylie's Baths Swimming Costume

Contributed by: Randwick District and Historical Society

Swimsuit - Full View Swimsuit - Back Detail of woven stripe Detail - Button Repair to Gusset Button detail Button and Drawstring detail
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Object information

Significance statement

Standard issue, one-size-fits-all bathing suit hired out to patrons of Wylie's Baths; a garment which demonstrates considerable historical signficance because of its unusual design. In an era when the construction and style of bathing suits was strongly distinguished between men and women, this garment appears to be unisex, with the only part which adjusts according to the shape of the wearer is the drawstring around the neck. The garment nevertheless reflects contemporary concerns with maintaining modesty over mobility whilst bathing; though it has no sleeve, it covers the entire torso with the hem extending to the knees, concealing the shape of the wearer. Unlike Mina Wylie's own competition costume (ID 547) this garment, made from a heavy, thick cotton fabric was intended only for leisurely bathing.

This swimsuit itself is quite rare, having being made exclusively for Wylie's Baths (evident in the weaving of 'Wylie's Baths' into the fabric garment); founded by Mina's father Henry Wylie who was a competive swimmer in his own right, and who later coached his daughter. With the founding of Wylie's baths, Henry did much to promote seabathing in Sydney, following the lifting of an earlier ban on the practice in 1902. As with the other garments in the Mina Wylie collection, this swimsuit is well-provenance, passing into the ownership of Mina Wylie from her father, before being donated to the Randwick District Historical Society. 

Author: Amy Butterfield, 15 July 2014.

Description

Large, rectangular-shaped costume, two short legs and no sleeves. Designed as 'one size fits all', the only accommodation for alternate sizes is the drawstring fastening around the neck. Two buttons are arranged centre front of the costume. Fabric is blue woven cotton, decorated with vertical white stripes, and 'Wylie's Baths' written in blue on top of the stripes.

History and Provenance

  1. Place:

    Wylie's Baths, Coogee, Sydney, NSW 

Fibre / Weave

Blue woven cotton, with white vertical stripes and 'Wylie's Baths' woven in blue along each stripe. 

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

Label

No label evident on the garment.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

Garment appears to use entire selvedge of fabric.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

Two buttons, centre front with a drawstring fastening the swimsuit around the neck.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Measurements

Swimsuit
Girth
Neck 570 mm
Waist 1200 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 1025 mm
Inside leg 145 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 225 mm
Cross back 665 mm
Fabric width 690 mm
Convert to inches

Dress Themes

Swimsuit was provided by Wylie's Baths for hire by bathers. Given the weight of the fabric and the extremely loose fit, this suit was intended for leisure bathing rather than competitive swimming, as Mina Wylie's costume was.

Condition

Evidence of repairs

Several tears around the gusset which have been repaired with black thread.

Mould damage

Mould damage resulted spots of brown discolouration around the legs.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Discolouration
  2. Torn
  3. Mould stains

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