Australian dress register ID:549
Owner:Randwick District and Historical Society
Date range:1900 - 1910
Place of origin:
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.
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.
Fibre / Weave
Blue woven cotton, with white vertical stripes and 'Wylie's Baths' woven in blue along each stripe.
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
Two buttons, centre front with a drawstring fastening the swimsuit around the neck.
- Hook and eye
|Front neck to hem||1025 mm|
|Inside leg||145 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||225 mm|
|Cross back||665 mm|
|Fabric width||690 mm|
|Convert to inches|
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.
Evidence of repairs
Several tears around the gusset which have been repaired with black thread.
Mould damage resulted spots of brown discolouration around the legs.
- Mould stains