Well before there was such a thing as magazines with swimsuit issues, women heading to the beach faced, well, issues.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, here on St. Simons Island and everywhere, ladies desiring to “bathe” in the surf were required to be properly covered from head to toe in clumsy, knee-length, long-sleeve dresses (often made of wool) over bloomers, stockings and a bathing cap. Beyond their face and hands, little was revealed. Men had it slightly better, wearing what amounted to an exercise leotard, often wool, that was sleeveless and bare-legged.
Over the years, ladies were gradually liberated from these early, cumbersome bathing costumes. Arms and then legs were slowly revealed, followed by the corset-like swimsuits of the 1940s and the later arrival of the daring bikini.
This month’s images, recently donated to the Coastal Georgia Historical Society by Camille Penders, depict early swimwear on St. Simons Island’s beaches. Accompanying photos: a trio of ladies in early bathing costumes; a happy foursome lounging at the water’s edge; a bathing beauty strikes a pose in front of the St. Simons Hotel that once operated at the St. Simons pier.