Tag Archives: summer girl

The Girl and the Motor Boat: 1904

white rubber motor boating costumes 1904

These motor-boat costumes of white-rubber sheeting are the latest fad


Grace Margaret Gould

Truly the whole world of outdoor sports these modern days is possessed by charming femininity. The pleasure-loving American girl of the summer of 1904 has again emphasized this fact by adopting for her very own motor boating, the newest sport of the moment.

Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.

Perhaps that is one reason why the summer girl is showing such a keen interest in the sport.

Then, there are other reasons, and good reasons, too, why motor boating especially appeals to the witching summer girl. To look attractive first and forever is one of the axioms of her life, and motor boating affords her an opportunity not only to enjoy herself, but, what is far more important, look well at the same time.

Motoring ashore invariably means dusty roads, and dusty roads demand disfiguring face masks and hats and coats purposely designed to protect the hair and the gown from dirt.

In motor boating the absence of all dust and dirt make it possible for the motor girl to throw aside her ugly looking face mask and to wear clothes which are not solely designed as dust protectors.

motor boat cap with curtain 1904

Of course, this does not mean that the motor girl arrays herself, when off for an afternoon jaunt on the water, as if she were dressing for a garden party fete. Laces and chiffons are not adapted for motor boat wear. But, in a neat little motor boat protected by canvas awning, she can wear jaunty looking caps and smart looking coats and skirts. If her boat has an uncommon rate of speed, and she goes in for racing more than for pleasure, then, of course, she must dress to protect herself from the wind, and, oftentimes, the water. However, the waterproof and the windproof caps purposely designed for the motor boat girl are actually things of artistic beauty in comparison with the head paraphernalia which this same girl has been accustomed to wear to protect her face and head from dust and dirt when speeding along the road in her motor car.

Then incidentally, here is a reason which may have something to do with endearing the sport of motor boating to the summer girl. Anyone who has tried knows that courtship in a motor car is difficult—but courtship in a motor boat is positively inevitable, especially when the neat little craft has been made with just room enough for two

In motor boating one is relieved of the ever present fear of collision, and the man who steers the wheel is not compelled to give his undivided attention to the task. He can guide the motor boat and entertain the girl at the same time.

Now, of course, the motor boat girl appreciates after her first outing on the water that she received just twice as much attention as if she had been motoring ashore. Hence she determined that her motor boat costumes shall do their part, and a big part at that, in making her attractive.

The summer girl is pretty apt to look her loveliest, to say nothing of the most youthful, dressed in white. The motor boat girl, knowing this, conceived the idea at once of having a white costume. It took considerable thinking to decide what material to have it made of, for it couldn’t be filmy nor of such a fabric that the splashing of the water would ruin it, but at last she decided upon white rubber sheeting, which in every way proved satisfactory. She had it made in skirt and coat style, and it proved the jauntiest sort of a costume imaginable, to say nothing of its being appropriate in every way for the sport for which it was designed. The skirt was plain and made instep length, and the coat was a little box garment hanging full and straight back and front. Scarlet corduroy was used to trim the cuffs and collar. To wear with this suit she had made purposely a white rubber sheeting cap. French garments of rubber sheeting in this coat and skirt style in many different colors are among the recent Saks importations from Paris.

Coat and skirt costumes of rubberized taffeta are also the very smart thing for motor boating. The skirts are short, and many of them trimmed with stitched silk bands, while the coats are either in Norfolk or box shape. The sleeves are cut rather full, but are provided with an inside windcuff, which is worn under the regular sleeve and gathered close to the wrist with a narrow elastic These rubberized taffeta costumes come in many dashing, as well as sedate, colors. They are made up in scarlet silk with just a touch of soft black kid in the way of a trimming accessory. And they also come in the champagne shade, in oyster white, and in a faint pink coral tint.

A pink rubberized taffeta costume for motor boating sounds somewhat audacious, does it not? But combined with brown kid it was less daring than one would suppose. The kid in this specially imported French model was of a dark shade of brown, and was used for the big buttons, the cuffs, and collar, and as a piping for both the skirt and the coat. With the silk rubber costume come very smart-looking toques, made of the same material. The silk for the hat is laid in folds and is then shaped so that it is becoming to the individual wearer. Generally, a shirred rosette or a plain rosette with an odd button in the center acts as the only trimming.

motor boating windy day hat 1904

Long coats of rough woven pongee are also used by the motor boat girl. And many of them are made in the quaintest of styles, with full skirts and long drooping shoulders. With these coats the headgear worn is always suited to the special occasion. And right here let me mention the adjustable hoods of pongee which are the most convenient things to have on hand when the weather suddenly changes. They are made very full and can be buttoned on to a hat or cap. They protect the entire back of the head, and then tie in front in an effective bow. These hoods which come in a variety of colors are another French idea which Saks seized upon.

Many times the summer girl will use the motor boat purely as a vehicle of conveyance, and on these occasions she frequently wears a very much befrilled frock. To protect her evening gown aboard a motor boat, many lightweight rubber coats have been designed, made with generously full skirts and sleeves. There are also silk rubber capes to wear if it happens that it is the waist only that needs special protection. These capes are made three-quarter length and in military style, with just a touch of gold about them. After the hop is over, and when the trip home to one’s hotel or cottage is to be taken in a motor boat, the auto lady’s rubber shirt is a convenient wrap to slip on over the gown. This garment, which is nowhere near as negligee in appearance as its name implies, is sometimes made of rubberized taffeta or of raw pongee. It has a standing collar and yoke of elastic, and its only opening is at the neck. To wear over décolleté gowns this auto shirt is quite the best thing in the way of a wrap.

motor boating pongee hoot 1904

If the home trip is a long one, a rubber tissue veil is also very convenient to own. It takes the place with the modern belle of the lace scarf, which the more lackadaisical society girl of thirty years or more ago wore over her hair. This rubber tissue veil is as light as a feather and is plaited on to a ribbon band. The ribbon is tied about the head, fastened under the coiffure in the back. Many of these rubber tissue veils are made so long that they form a shoulder cape buttoning at the throat in front. It is only when the dance is over that these rubber tissue veils are at all practical to wear, as of course they are apt to disarrange an elaborately dressed coiffure. On the other hand, they are an invaluable preventive to neuralgia when worn on the homeward trip if that trip happens to be across the water in a motor boat.

Motor July 1904: pp. 28, 56

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil, who has summered on various bodies of water, would disagree that “Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.”  The roar of the engines, the shrieks of boaters in an intoxicated state either water-ski-ing or falling overboard, and the wasp-like hum of the so-called “Jet-skis” all contrive to make a day on the water a perfect hell for man and beast.

And Mrs Daffodil shudders at the insouciance of believing that no one collides in a motor-boat and that the man who steers the wheel can both guide the motor boat and “entertain the girl” at the same time. It is true that one has more hands free when not engaged with a sailing boat’s rigging, but it is not pleasant to shout endearments over the engine’s noise and if one is enjoying a day on the water with a lady who is not one’s spouse, running out of gas may result in a bad sun-burn and a date in the divorce courts. On the whole, the old-fashioned sailing boat is much safer option.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Girls Who Collect Gentlemen’s Hats: 1893-95

If the Saratoga girl has a fad, quite new with the season, it is the collection of straw hats which are plucked quite heartlessly from the devoted heads of her admirers.

The fad is managed this way: The summer young man goes to call upon the summer girl. He spends an evening pleasantly upon the piazza, or in the cosiest corner of the parlor, and when it comes time for him to go home, he finds his hat firmly clasped by a pair of adorable little white hands, while a pair of blue eyes beseech him to leave his hat, as a reminder of a pleasant evening.

“But,” murmurs the Saratoga unfortunate, “how am I to go home without my hat?”

“Oh, dear,” pouts the pretty miss, “can you not walk home without it? Are you afraid of catching cold? Here, take my handkerchief,” handing him a tiny lace-trimmed absurdity, “and run just as fast as you can.”’

And so it comes to pass that the Saratoga young man has, for a summer fad, a collection of dainty pocket handkerchiefs, bearing different and delicate flower perfumes. While the young woman has her boudoir trimmed with broad-brimmed straw hats.

In one of the big hotels, there is a darling little sitting-room which belongs to a dear little southern heiress. She is from Louisiana, I think, and looks not unlike her southern sister, Mrs. James Brown Potter. Well! Upon a spindle-legged Josephine table in that sitting room, there is a straw hat, with the blue ribbon of Yale around it, and inside the hat there are the sweetest bon-bons, of which a supply is sent daily by him from whom the hat was wrested. Upon the wall there hangs a hat, glorified by painted daisies, and another one, trimmed with natural flowers also sent daily. Upon the floor, daintily lined with blue satin, is hat which must have been worn by a youthful Daniel Webster. It is so very large! And in the hat there sleeps—the Louisiana girl’s pet poodle.

There have been fads and fads. But this summer the straw hat fad rages above and beyond them all…

Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 16 July 1893: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  When the Summer Girl tired of collecting hats, or perhaps ran out of hat-pegs in her darling little sitting-room, she turned to a new fad: collecting hat-bands.

The girl who can boast a number of beaux, owns hat-bands of all of the college colors, and also those pertaining to the various athletic clubs; when her best young man pro tern is a Princetonian, she sports the tiger black and yellow; when he hails from Harvard, red is her favorite for the nonce; then there is dark blue for Yale, and white and light blue for Columbia. There are any number of diverse colors for the minor colleges throughout the United States to which a girl professes devotion, if her best young man belongs to one of them.

The up-to-date girl is an authority on such matters, and is proud of her collection of hat-bands, most of which are trophies of conquest wrested from the unwary college man. Verily this rage for hat-bands is an expensive fad, as the fellows declare, for when a young lady raves over a hat-band, a gallant youth can do no less than present it to his fair companion.

Of course these bands are adjustable by means of silver or gold slides or buckles; these ornaments have become of considerable importance, the jewellers being kept busy in devising novel designs.

Almost as many girls are seen wearing college-pins as boys; some of them are acquired by purchase, while others are exacted as tribute from obsequious admirers. The girls, however, in the different colleges are adopting distinctive badges, and these societies bid fair to rival those of the male colleges in the beauty and diversity of their college emblems. Godey’s Lady’s Book August 1895

Such trophies of conquest could easily have been purchased, but where was the fun in that?

…I know a little miss—and legion is her name—who will most conspicuously sport the crimson when she goes boating with a Harvard man on Monday; who will wear blue for her Yale cavalier of Tuesday; appear on successive days in Boston University’s scarlet and white, McGill’s blue and white, Pennsylvania’s blue and red, Princeton’s scarlet and black; yes, who will wind up the week by going to church on Sunday in Brown’s brown and white. The minx!

Coquetry made easy was ever the motto of the shops, and it has for years been easy to get the colors of the best-known nearby colleges, but never before has it been so easy to fit a single sailor hat with five hundred different adjustable bands, each representing some college, tiny or the reverse, and to match each band in the sober or flaming tints of a yachting tie. Evening Star [Washington DC] 6 June 1896: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


My Lady’s Hammock: 1895

The Hammock, James Tissot. Source: Wikigallery


It Is a Gorgeous Affair This Season And There are Fetching Gowns Which Go With It and Hosiery Like a Beautiful Italian Sunset

The girl who is spending the season at a fashionable hotel is forced to miss one of the most fascinating pleasures of summertime, namely, the hammock. At the really swell hotels now-a-days one rarely sees a hammock, for the reason, perhaps, that the hammock is a sure destroyer of lace, chiffon or the fashionable costumes that custom demands must be worn all day at the popular watering places.

It is only that fortunate young woman who is summering at some country farm house or big, roomy mountain hotel where there are plenty of trees about the shady piazza nooks that can enjoy the true comfort of the hammock. The watering place girl can only dream of the luxury and the piazza rocking chair is the nearest approach to the graceful swinging couch, canopied by green waving branches which her sister in the mountains spends the long morning hours in.

The tactful maiden studies her “type” before she makes up her mind to adopt the hammock as a permanent summer back ground. There are certain styles of girl that look as though made for a hammock. In it they are marvels of grace and prettiness, but the stout, comfortable, well fed young woman who may make a fetching picture on a bicycle is as much out of place in a hammock as it is possible to imagine. The slim waisted, “fluffy” girl is the kind that looks well in a hammock. She becomes a soft, limp mass of lace and ribbon, the moment she adjusts herself to its meshes, and if an inch or two of her stocking shows beneath the white lace of her skirt it doesn’t look at all shocking, but on the contrary, chic and appropriate. The Burne-Jones type of girl is therefore the special kind who makes her hammock the piece de resistance in the artillery with which she will wage successful warfare on the heart of the  Summer Man.

First, she selects her hammock. If she is a blond she gets one of cool looking white cording, or in blue and white stripes, with bamboo rods stretched across the head and foot. Then she selects the place where it is to hang, always a corner somewhere out of the general.

If she is of a romantic disposition she finds out some rippling resting place, where the tree branches bend across, and she will have her pretty resting place suspended right across the water, climbing into it each time at the risk of a wetting. Here she makes a veritable illustration of the verse: “Summer day; babbling brook/Girl in hammock reading book!”

The girl with dark eyes and brown hair selects a hammock of brilliant red Mexican grass, or some other Oriental looking weave. She piles it with silken cushions of the same rich hues; deep crimson and olive greens and here and there a Persian covering that stands out among the others, making an effect that delights the soul of any artist which may be in the vicinity until he begs for the privilege of sketching the hammock’s occupant.

The fair haired blue eyed girl has blue and white cushions and little pillows for her ears, covered with white dotted Swiss and trimmed with Val. Lace. I picked up one of these ridiculous little things the other day and learned for the first time that they existed. Just imagine a cushion about five inches square stuffed with cotton and a suspicion of violet sachet, made specially for to tuck under your ear among the larger pillows.

The heart shaped cushion is one of the novelties for my lady’s hammock this year. It is shaped exactly like the real article which is supposed to exist even in the bosom of summer’s merriest maiden and it is embroidered over with its owner’s favorite flower, and sometimes a motto or sentiment.

One of the prettiest that I have seen is covered with marguerites embroidered in their natural colors and through the blossoms runs the line in gold thread: “He loves me; he loves me not?”

Another with a border of the ox-eyed daisies says:

“I don’t care what the daisies say;

I know I’ll be married some fine day!”

This summer girl not only has the regulation tag upon her hammock with her name thereon, but she attaches it with a huge bow of ribbon matching her cushions in color. The ends of this hang so low that they sweep the grass beneath the float in every passing breeze.

Of course there are frocks specially for hammock wear, and stockings and shoes of attractive design to be worn when reposing in this luxurious swing.

At no time in the career of a summer girl are her feet more in evidence than when she is poised in her hammock or getting in or out of it.

This last operation is one which it takes considerable dexterity and grace to accomplish successfully, but after a while most of these clever young women manage to do it without turning an eyelash and with a not-too-reckless display of ankle. It looks wonderfully difficult to a mere man, but it all depends on a little quickness and a certain curves of the limbs in getting out, which keeps the skirts in place.

A man is apt to get all tangled up in a hammock, and he emerges from one as a rule looking as though he had been in a collision. But the hammock maiden has it all down to a science.

She fixes up her last summer’s dresses to wear in the hammock. Of course there must not be too many buttons upon any frock for this purpose, as they catch in the meshes and come off, as a usual thing. But plenty of lace and soft ribbons can be worn and a gown which could never be worn anywhere else, owing to its last season’s cut, makes a most effective costume for hammock wear.

A pretty little girl who affects the hammock pose to a considerable extent, confided to me the other day that she discarded stays in her hours of open air repose. She wore some mysterious sort of waist made with whale bone, but without steels.

“When I’ve been out tramping, or fishing, or driving, and get home tired out,” she told me, “I just run up to my room and have a sponge bath. Then I slip into one of these waists, which is ever so much cooler you know, put on my loosest and fluffiest hammock frock and get down here under the trees, and in a minute I’m enjoying as pleasant a nap as it is possible to imagine.”

This girl has a collection of pretty hosiery and shoes for her afternoon siesta. She has one pair of the daintiest French morocco “mules” or slippers without any upper part in the back, which she wears with red silk stockings. Then she has Japanese slippers in all colors and hose to match, some of them quite vivid in design. One of the oddest conceits are her “rainbow” stockings.

Her pleasure in wearing them must be that of the small boy with his first cigar; “purely intellectual,” for they are strictly invisible, but I suppose there must be sort of conscious delight in the possession of such frivols as these. They are worn with a small, innocent-looking brown suede slipper which buttons over the instep with three large brown buttons. The stocking which shows over the ankle is brown, the same as the shoe, but as it reaches the calf of the leg it lightens by degrees to a golden yellow, turning with a sort of beautiful Italian sunset effect into palest violet, and then deepening into purple at the top. The garters worn with this are of black elastic, through which runs a violet ribbon. The side knot is of the same ribbon and the buckles are of engraved and oxidized silver, an owl on one symbolizing night, and a lark on the other for morning. These are the most fetching of all her hammock properties, and it seems a pity that they are so unobtrusively worn undiscovered, unless a hammock costume of bloomers be adopted.

The Herald [Los Angeles CA] 25 August 1895: p. 16

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Pleasant as are the solitary delights of the hammock, dual occupancy is where the sparks really fly:


A Potent Factor in Midsummer Joys and Midwinter Repentance.

The hammock has much to answer for.

It has developed from nothing into a potent factor in midsummer social joys and sorrows.

A decade ago the hammock was sporadic. It is now universal. Certain tourists from this heretofore unhammocked land of the free, journeying into Mexico and in Cuba noted the meshed crescent with interest first and with admiration afterwards, insomuch that they brought one of the swaying couches with them.

The result has been remarkable. Americans have taken the hammock to their very hearts, and American ingenuity has devised machinery capable of turning out hammocks almost as fast as the finished article will turn out its occupant. A summer bereft of a hammock would be to the American lad and lass a dreary and unromantic period.

Given a good article of moonlight and a hammock big enough for two, and there is no combination which will more rapidly and thoroughly advance the cause of Cupid and bring about the lighting of Hymen’s torch.

Between the moon and the hammock there is a certain analogy. A young moon is very like a hammock, and when Luna appears in the west, her crescent apparently swung between two invisible trees and fastened with a pair of bright stars, the analogy is complete. One can readily fancy an angel swaying in the celestial hammock, which is said also to contain a man. And the idea is so apt to fix itself in the mind of the ardent mortal who gazes westward that his first impulse is to get a hammock, and an earthly angel of his own, and then to sway joyously to the rhythm of two hearts that beat as one.

As an aid to flirtation it is twin sister to a fan.

If a young couple ever trust themselves to the support of the same hammock at the same time, Cupid has his own way thereafter. The pair must of necessity be brought into such sweet proximity that every particle of formality and reserve is melted away. One may withdraw from his fair one on a bench, may hold aloof while seated on the same grassy bank, and may hitch his chair away, or closer, as his feelings dictate. But in the same hammock one can do none of these things. He can only submit to fate and propinquity and  be led delightfully to the momentous question.

The hammock…is fashioned much like a spider’s web. But who would not willingly be a fly when the web holds a charming maiden? And what man is there with soul so dead who is not glad that the hammock has come to stay.

The Macon [MS] Beacon 16 August 1890: p. 4


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


A Miniature Laundry for the Summer Girl: 1904

little girl laundry

According to a writer in the Chicago Chronicle, New York Girls are indulging in a fad for laundry work this summer.

In one of her summer trunks the girl of Gotham takes a miniature laundry outfit. Everything is dolls’ size, but very useful just the same.

There is the tiny washboard. There is the little bit of a washtub, no bigger than a little girl would need for her doll clothes. There is the little box of fine starch and the salt to make it smooth and glossy. There are the tiny clothespins, and there is the blueing and there are the dyes. Fine washing, nowadays, includes the knowledge of ecru tints, cream and blue and gray.

For ironing purposes the Gotham girl takes with her a little charcoal iron. You build a fire in it and it stays hot all through the ironing. It is the neatest, safest thing that ever was, and the summer girl who owns such an iron is quite independent of gas and electricity, of stoves and uncertain heat.

Washing one’s own clothes in one’s own room is a great fad. The boarding-house keeper and the proprietor do not like it, but what can the poor girl do when there is no laundry handy or when the prices are ruinous?

It is a fad to give a laundry party. All the other boarders are invited in your room, while you slap out your fine laces, wash your organdies and lawns and do a little lace handkerchief ironing on the looking-glass and window pane. There is many a dollar saved this way, so it is a very useful fad.

Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA] 3 July 1904: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Unless one has unlimited funds or a laundry staff of unlimited patience, Mrs Daffodil advises the summer girl to choose textured garments: seer-sucker, crape, or coarse linen of the Aesthetic variety. These may be shaken out and hung up to dry with little or no need for that tiny charcoal iron. Add a chiffon frock for evening, which may be steamed over a pan of hot water, if mussed in a moonlit embrace. One’s time at the summer resorts may be more profitably spent flirting with a handsome gentleman on the esplanade rather than rinsing one’s embroidered lawn frock or trying to reconcile one’s laundry list with the returned items.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Bathing Suit Dance: 1906

Smart Bathing Costume 1905


Summer Resorters Find the Abbreviated Costumes Lend Ease and Grace

(New York World.)

“I’ve much less on when I’m dressed than when I’m undressed,” said the celebrated Mme. Sans Gene [“Madame Without-Embarrassment,” a character in Sardou’s play of the same name], speaking of the court dress of her own very “natural” days.

Perhaps madame foresaw the bathing-suit party, which was suggested by the most ingenious and cleverest woman of the Four Hundred, but which has been carried out by others less prominent in social circles.

For the first time society and the Health Culturists meet on common ground. For there are various women at the different bathing resorts who wear bathing suits from the first of May until the middle of September for their health’s sake.

For them a bathing-suit dinner party is a thing of common occurrence, and once you’ve gotten used to it, it is one of the most comfortable ways of enjoying an al fresco meal.

The small boy whispered that you can eat more in a bathing suit than in your regular clothes, and he wishes he could eat his Christmas dinner in this buttonless suit, but luckily by the end of September he is forced into the restrictions of a belt: otherwise the ravages on the Christmas pudding would be too terrible to think of. Bathing-suit life is the healthiest kind of life to lead, and now that it is to be popular the bathing-suit dance will not end up with fainting and exhaustion on the part of the tightly laced lady.

After all clothes are merely a matter of longitude and latitude, and what seems rather scant to us is far too much covering for the inhabitants of other digress.

The peek-a-boo waist has prepared us for almost anything. It is a case of “after this the deluge.” So naturally we take to bathing suits.

A bathing suit party was given last week at a summer hotel whose broad porch runs into the sea. Tables were set on the porch, which was afterward cleared for dancing. The women guests vied with each other in the attractiveness of their suits, which were new for the occasion.

Most of the men balked and compromised on a species of apparel which resembled the boating costumes of rowing clubs on ladies’ day. Gorgeous flannel shirts appeared with duck trousers, and but one or two sturdy adherents of the rules of the game came in old swimming suits, modestly covered with flamboyant bath robes. As usual the men appeared ill at ease at first, but women, with their inherent adaptability, seemed perfectly at home and happy to wear their ocean garments on dry land.

The single health culturist who had come from an adjoining cottage was in her element. This woman has not had on a gown since May 1 and has been out of doors all the time, even sleeping in a semi-covered porch…

“I am the open air fiend of the family,” she said, laughingly, when some one tried to persuade her to dine in the stuffy dining room of the hotel. “I don’t intend to eat indoors or to be indoors one moment more than is necessary. My doctor, who believes in nature, once ordered me to be out of doors, and I think he will be satisfied with the way I have obeyed orders. Yes, my skin is tanned, and my hair is bleached several shades too light; but I, who was so weak and anaemic in the spring, am now the healthiest woman at the shore. When I came here I could neither eat nor sleep. Now I expect to have the caterer raise the prices on all the food, and I have gained twenty pounds.

“When you attribute your recovery to a bathing-suit life, Mrs. L__?” asked a half-hearted guest at the party.

“Certainly, my dear; so does the doctor. By wearing so few clothes I get all the good effects of sun and air on the body. One of my friends has cured herself of incipient lung trouble by taking all-day sun baths in her bathing suit, and she has courage, for she is wearing her suit in the mountains, where the only possible excuse for it is a seven-inch-deep brooklet, and I believe that dried up at the sight of the suit.”

It was this young matron who started the bathing-suit parties. At first she and her husband appeared at a separate dining table in their bathing suits. They looked so comfortable and cool that one by one their friends joined them at their health culture clinics, from which the over-dressed people were debarred. Finally one sweltering afternoon, as tea was being served at the bathing-suit table, some of the newly arrived guests of the hotel, thinking bathing-suit dinners were “de rigeur,” appeared at the table d’ hote in their new and cool silken suits, and the custom was established. The landlord was happy in having found a “specialty” never before seen in any other hotel, and he will serve you a delicious hot or cold dinner on the open veranda where you sit in a loose, cool comfortable bathing suit.

The young people are bound to dance afterward, particularly as mine host boasts of his Hungarian orchestra, newly arrived from across the river, and twice the delight is felt in the rhythmic movements of the dancers when no tight and over-heating clothing hinders the freedom of the their movements.

Girls dancing in bathing suits are more graceful than when dancing in long, tight dresses. Every movement displays the joy they feel in this newly-found freedom, just as the women walking up and down the beach in their abbreviated bathing skirts stride with the little sinuous movements of healthy savages, so different from the wobbly, mincing gait they have to affect when hindered by high heels and many skirts.

Dancing can be indulged in ad libitum without much fear of the doctor when “bathing suits” are the order of the evening, for the dance necessarily takes place out of doors and one of the chief enemies of the dance hall—namely, bad air, is avoided. When loose clothing is worn with high neck and elbow sleeves danger of taking cold is obviated and dancing in one’s bathing suit by the light of the electric lamp as well as by that of the moon becomes a thoroughly hygienic pursuit. Sanctioned by fashion, indorsed by physicians, acclaimed by the lovers of “health culture,” the bathing suit glories in its own apotheosis and we return in it to the real love of simple living. Two suits are all you need for your summer holiday.

Denver [CO] Post 29 July 1906: p. 16

Those “two suits” might be special costumes created just for the “Bathing Suit Dance.”


Say, girls, how’d you like to trip the light fantastic in a bathing suit? Asks the Los Angeles Record.

Now, really, that isn’t so awfully shocking, after all, when you come to think of it. The bathing skirts might be a little shorter than you’re used to wearing, the sleeves longer and the necks a good bit higher—that’s all the difference. And just think of the comfort and coolness of such a costume…

Of course, the bathing suit dancing costume is elaborate, and of course it can be just as becoming and just as distinctive as you please.

The goods may be silk or any other costly fabric, and the trimmings may be most expensive; because the bathing suit dancing costume has never seen the salt water.

It’s just to dance in, girls.

Riverside [CA] Independent Enterprise 11 August 1906: p. 2

bathing suit dance2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It was said that Harry Lehr, the court jester for Newport’s “Smart Set” first suggested a bathing suit dance to Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish. She often went along with Lehr’s japes, but on this occasion, she was not amused.


The New York Newspaper Story About the Bathing Suit Dance Denied.

Newport, R.I., July 5. Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish opened her Newport mansion last night with an entertainment at Crossways, but it was of a most simple nature and nothing out of the ordinary happened. It had been reported in the New York newspapers that the guests would be asked to come in bathing suits, but this gave Mrs. Fish so much annoyance that this afternoon she requested that the following denial be given to the press:

“Mrs Fish asks the newspapers to deny that she proposed having her guests appear in bathing suits at a dinner the night of the Fourth of July. It was simply a dinner for forty guests, at which there were no special features, and only a little dancing followed in the ballroom.

Kansas City [MO] Star 5 July 1906: p. 3


bathing beauties 1905

There was an alternate version of the origin of the “Bathing Suit Dance—” as the brain-child of a proponent of modest dress:

The idea was really started last winter in New York, when a good deal of controversy was raised concerning the décolleté gowns that were the rule among the fashionable crowd, both at parties and at the opera. A well-known millionaire, who is somewhat straitlaced in his ideas concerning womanly modesty, said that he would much prefer seeing a daughter of his attend a ball in her bathing suit than in one of the evening gowns considered de rigueur in smart society. A lady who was present, and who overheard this remark, at once took him up and said that she would give a bathing suit party in his honour, to which all the men would come in ordinary evening dress, but that all the ladies present must wear the clothes in which they were wont-to take their “dip” in the summer. He could then judge whether the bathing costume or the evening dress was the most correct form of toilette for the modest young woman.

New Zealand Herald, 13 October 1906, Page 2

To Mrs Daffodil’s regret, no decision on the question was announced in the paper, only that the party was a great success and that all the ladies looked charming in their abbreviated costumes.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Advertising Belles at the Summer Resorts: 1882

1882 2 ladies

A novel feature of the season at Saratoga and Long Branch, “says the same lady, “will be an advertising belle at each of those places. Two handsome girls of good form and top-lofty style have been hired for the purpose. They will be fashionably dressed, but their mission is not to display dry goods.

A dealer in hair, hair dyes, washes for the complexion and toilet articles of a beautifying sort employs them, and will pay their expenses. They will serve as models on which to exhibit the latest achievements in false hair and hair-dressing. Their faces will be carefully ‘made up’ with such preparations as he manufactures. The plan is a bold one, but entirely feasible. The hotel balls at Long Branch and Saratoga are open to all who come; and these two professional beauties are personally respectable, know how to dance gracefully, can talk well enough, and will certainly eclipse most of the amateur beauties. They will stay at first class hotels, lounge on the most thronged balconies, go to the horse races, and, in short, make themselves decently conspicuous in every possible way. There is a swindle in the matter, however, and I’ll tell you how. These two girls are beautiful when unadorned, and the ‘make-up ‘ of their faces with washes and pigments is not at all needed; nor is any particular kind of braid, frizzle, or switch requisite to make their heads bewitching. But many a plain woman will foolishly suppose that the same adornment will produce in her equal attractiveness, and in that error will lie the hair-dresser’s profit.  It depends on the newspapers to let the public know who and what his professional beauties are, and whom they advertise, but I won’t further his cause by giving his name. Both girls are tall, slender, delicately molded blondes, with the air of duchesses, and they come from east of Avenue A.”

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA]  2 July 1882

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “professional beauty” is a recognised figure of English society. One sees her photo-gravures in shop windows everywhere; striplings and married gentlemen sigh over them.  Whether she is an actress or a member of the nobility, it is her primary responsibility—and an arduous profession it is—to be lovely in all circumstances.  She may have delicately “puffed” a soap or a dressmaker, but she would not have been so bold as to tout waterfalls and chignons at summer resorts, particularly while obviously “painting.” They do these things very differently in the States.

Mrs Daffodil is not surprised to find that the gentleman had their own version of the professional beauty:

A Walking Advertisement.

A new profession has been introduced into the city during the past two years, which the majority of citizens know little about. All large prominent houses now hire professional dressers for the purpose of introducing new styles. You may have noticed often that some particular friend of yours who, as you well know, has no bank account, and does not seem to work, but yet dresses in the height of fashion, wearing every new style of hat, clothes, shoes or necktie that makes its appearance. Well, he is employed by some house to popularize new garments by wearing them and making them familiar to all dressers. He receives a salary and frequents all popular resorts; in fact, he lives off of his shape and looks, as only handsome and well-formed men are eligible to the new profession. Merchant Tailor in St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Daily Boomerang [Laramie, WY] 7 February 1890: p. 3


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.