Tag Archives: Victorian bathing costume

Shoes for the Surf: 1879-1922

bathing boots cartoon

From Mermaids: with Other Tales Piscatorial and Pictorial, Charles Henry Ross, 1886

 

At present most American ladies prefer a striped stocking to any slipper that can be devised, but now and then, when a beach is pebbly, a pretty foot is badly cut, and its owner wishes that its delicate covering had been more substantial. The French slippers have hemp soles with canvas tops and are fastened on the feet by ties matching the trimming of the dress. As a rule, an anchor is embroidered on the toe, and cork soles are placed inside. The French plates representing ladies clothed in the most approved style show these slippers fastened by means of enough cross-gartering to satisfy Malvolio himself, but this style is not likely to be adopted at American watering places. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 7 June 1879: p. 11

embroidered bathing shoe

Bathing-slippers should not be forgotten, nor their immediate purchase neglected, particularly if the shore be a frequented one, for then there will certainly be an ample store of broken glass, besides the usual sharp flints, oyster shells, and pebbles, to cut or bruise your feet. At many seaside places they may be procured, being made of plaited straw or of felt. In either case they need some embellishment, which may be given by the small expenditure of a piece of scarlet braid, and the turning of it into rosettes or bows, and sandals which cross over the foot and ankle, and are tied above it in a bow and short ends. These bathing-shoes and slippers may also be made by clever amateur hands out of felt or blanketing, or of very coarse flannel, embroidered in coarse crewel-work, and bound neatly with worsted braid. They may be soled also with a pair of cork soles, to be found everywhere, which should first be covered on both sides with flannel. Another method of making a bathing-slipper is to take a pair of old boots or shoes, cut them down to the required shape, and to cover the fronts—the only part left—with flannel to match the bathing-dress, trimming with worsted braid, and attaching sandals of the same to them, to keep up the heel. The Girl’s Own Outdoor Book, edited by Charles Peters, 1889

bathing sandals with ribbons 1903

Those who are truly thorough in this revival of an ancient mode are appearing on the beach without stockings, having their slender ankles and well-shaped calves crossed and recrossed with the canvas ribbons of their bathing sandals. Sometimes these are all white, though oftener you see gay colors looking pretty and effective against the gleaming white skin of which one gets scarcely more than a glimpse….Those who find this fad too much of an innovation compromise by wearing very thin lisle or silk stockings, so thin are they in fact that one could scarcely consider them as a real covering. The Washington [DC] Times 29 June 1902: p. 3

Although the assortment of shoes and boots is more limited, many changes may be achieved by the addition of silk laces to correspond in shade with the garment. Of course, there are the high laced boots of canvas, which are very trim and neat, finished by the silken string and tied in dainty bows; then some of our fair sisters may selected the prettily embroidered sandal with the crossed ankle ribbons that were worn many years ago, and still have a fascinating touch, particularly upon a small or well-shaped foot. Lastly, there are the plain little sandals with absolutely very little to them besides the sole and a strap to hold it on, and many of the bathers do not wear any shoes at all, but have the finest silk hosiery made to match the color of the bathing dress or its trimmings. To return for just a moment to a few suggestions regarding the hosiery, it might be well to know that some of the daintiest silken affairs worn are embroidered in small floral designs scattered at intervals and giving a touch of inconspicuous color to a dark ground, while others are woven in fine lace patterns and smart openwork stitches that reveal a hint of a white ankle peeping through the mesh. Ottumwa [IA] Tri-weekly Courier 21 June 1904: p. 2

NEW BATH SHOES

High Strapped Boots now Worn When Swimming.

Canvas lace and strap bathing boots that reach half way to the knees, are the latest novelty of the season added to the already complete list of accessories, and are particularly popular with women, because of the support they afford to the ankles, as well as for the good background they make for wearing elaborate hosiery.

Made in white, brown and black canvas with a heavy hand sewed cork sole, these new styles boots are decidedly attractive looking. The edges of the top are prettily scalloped, and the nickel buckles through which the straps pass that hold the boot in place make the fronts ornamental. If laces are used instead of straps, the boots are even prettier, with red, blue or yellow silk lacings zigzagged in diamond shapes across the front of the stockings.

These bathing boots are not lined and as a result are not warm, and the fronts are open except for the lacings or straps that do not interfere with the freedom of the muscles in swimming, while the height acts as an ankle support.

Soleless Shoes.

Many women prefer braided soleless swimming sandals, which are also new this year. They are made exactly like bed slippers with no sole and are fitted bout the foot with a draw string. They are made of white and black cotton stripes that look like shoe strings when braided into the slipper. These low bathing shoes are made with a long lap, or upper, and high sides, so that when pulled up the foot is incased to the ankle as if in a mitten. They are loosely woven and are cooler than the styles made with soles. They cost 49 cents.

Besides these novelties the old cork sole low cut style of bathing shoes in black or white duck or canvas, with one strap and buckle or lacings, are still the most popular with bathers, because of the cost. They may be purchased for from 22 to 50 cents a pair. The Washington [DC] Times 10 August 1905: p. 7

Bathing Shoes.

Bathing shoes for any member of the family may be easily and cheaply made at home, says Mothers Magazine. They are strong enough to protect the feet from the little stones on the beaches, and so light that you will hardly feel them at all. Many swimmers object to the regular bathing boots as being somewhat in the way, but these homemade ones are so very light as to cause no inconvenience. Take an old pair of stockings (if they match the bathing suit so much the better.) and cut them off just below the knee. If they come higher they are apt to hinder a swimmer’s movements. Hem the top edges and cut and buttonhole little slits all around, about one inch below the hem. Buy a pair of cork or loofah soles (or if you have an old pair of light slippers you can use the soles) and slip into the feet of the stockings, fastening them on well. Then, run a wide tape, or ribbon, if you prefer, though the slits at the top and tie around the leg, and you have a pair of really good bathing boots for no cost at all. The Oregon Daily Journal [Portland OR] 12 July 1913: p. 7 [And, Mrs Daffodil would add, of no style whatsoever.]

Brilliant Bathing Boots Please Paris

Silk on Velvet Footwear Impracticable, of Course, of It Wouldn’t Be Attractive

Paris Fashionable shoemakers are already being besieged with orders for the new bathing boots which have been the rage at the Riviera and Monte Carlo baths. These silk and velvet boots are brilliant in color, the most conspicuous being orange boots lined with purple, white lined with red, and green lined with yellow.

In accordance with the theory that whatever is fashionable must be unpractical these boots are not laced, but are of the slip-on kind, so that once in the water they are sure to slip off.

Bootmakers contend that the bathing boot must be wide and baggy around the leg, so as to permit freedom of movement, while fitting the foot like a glove, and while the impartial spectator may agree with their arguments he is obliged to doubt the practicability of the principle. Wisconsin State Journal [Madison WI] 26 March 1920: p. 10

All-Rubber Bathing Slippers

One of the surf bathing shoes made popular last Summer is made of colored rubber without fabric, and cured on a perfectly-modeled last. The stock is calendered with an imitation leather grain. The sole and vamp are of the same quality of rubber; the inner surface of the sole is faced with white rubber. The trimming strips also are of white rubber.

Evidently the shoe was not designed by a shoemaker, or the upper would have been joined with a heel seam, rather than in the center of the vamp where faulty workmanship more easily mars the appearance of the goods.

These bathing slippers are made in six different colors, in sizes from child’s No. 11 to men’s No. 11.

Rubber Soled Bathing Shoe

Another shoe for the surf that is being made for Summer swimming is of a mercerized fabric, and has light rubber sole, thick enough to keep the feet away from the pebbles of the beach, but not heavy enough to stop the wearer from having a good swim. Both Roma and American patterns are used. Some of the Roman sandals, of colored fabrics, with white straps, are fascinating. Some one-strap pumps are of red, blue, green and black fabric, and have white bindings.  Boot and Shoe Recorder 15 April 1922: p. 132

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Unless one is extraordinarily hardy, bathing boots are an essential accessory for a sea-side holiday. The beaches of Britain are stony and unforgiving, which is why we build piers. If a bather wishes to be coddled, rather than braced, they should try the south of France.

There were always controversies about the correct stockings to be worn with bathing costumes.

Some young women are bold enough to venture upon the beach in sandals to match their bathing suits but without stockings of any kind. While the idea is sensible from the swimmer’s point of view, for certainly both shoes and stockings hinder one’s movements in the water, it is not a fashion which recommends itself for use in public. The girl who likes a good swim and prefers wearing a sensible costume must enjoy the sport where spectators are few. The Washington [DC] Times 6 July 1902: p. 3

The notion from 1904 that “many of the bathers do not wear any shoes at all, but have the finest silk hosiery made to match the color of the bathing dress or its trimmings” seems an appalling waste of stockings, which would be instantly torn to pieces on beaches littered with stones and shells.

Silk stockings are not necessary for bathing unless sandals are worn. The fashion would prove too expensive for the average woman. Fine lisle thread are every bit as good and even if they last but little longer they can at any rate be more easily replaced. Open-work hose are never worn with a bathing costume.  With an all blue or red gown the stockings should be of the same shade, unless there is considerable black braiding, in which case the black hose is effective. With a black costume the stockings should be of the same color. From time to time sandals appear and for a while are thought absolutely necessary, but almost as suddenly they will be disappear and for a while will be quite forgotten. This year at least one pair has already been provided with each smart bathing suit, which looks very much as though this were a sandal season. The sandals now fashionable look much like heelless pumps, with a little strap across the instep, and if the beach is at all rough it is of inestimable service. The swimmer, of course, has no use for this little slipper, which is quite useless in deep water and only retards and renders swimming unnecessarily difficult. Los Angeles [CA] Herald 25 June 1905: p. 33

Those shell-studded beaches made cork soles seem an admirable idea. However, they, too, had their perils.

Mermaid With Cork Soles

[Salt Lake Letter in Ogden Pilot]

Writing of the lake reminds me to say, for the benefit of my Ogden sisters, be warned in time and don’t do when you go bathing as one of my lady friends did. She said the pebbles on the lake bottom hurt her feet, so she had a pair of sandals made with cork soles. She put them on and went into the water. She’s not a vain woman, but she has a pretty foot, and she showed it that day with less effort than she ever did before in her life. Her feet went up and her head (heavy, of course, with the weight of a brain that could originate cork soles for sea-bathing) went down—on somebody’s broad shoulders—or I might have been under the painful necessity of elaborating on ‘another case of strangulation from sea-water.” Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 24 September 1881: p.12

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.

Spoopendyke and the Bathing Suit: 1880

1877 men's bathing suit

A COMPLICATED GARMENT.

“My dear,” observed Mr. Spoopendyke, looking up from his paper, “I think I would be greatly benefited this Summer by sea baths. Bathing in the surf is an excellent tonic, and if you will make me up a suit, and one for yourself, if you like, we’ll go down often and take a dip in the waves.”

“The very thing,” smiled Mrs. Spoopendyke, “you certainly need something to tone you up, and there’s nothing like salt water. I think I’ll make mine of blue flannel, and, let me see, yours ought to be, red, my dear.”

“I don’t think you caught the exact drift of my remark,” retorted Mr. Spoopendyke; “I didn’t say I was going into the opera business, or that I was going to hire out to some country village as a conflagration. My plan was to go in swimming, Mrs. Spoopendyke, to go in swimming, and not grow up with the country as a cremation furnace. You can make yours of blue if you want it, but you can’t make mine of red, that’s all.”

“There’s a pretty shade of yellow flannel–”

“Most indubitably, Mrs. Spoopendyke, but if you think I’m going to masquerade around Manhattan Beach in the capacity of a ham, you haven’t yet seized my idea. I don’t apprehend that I shall benefit by the waters any more by going around looking like a Santa Cruz rum barrel. What I want is a bathing suit, and If you can’t got one up without making me look like Fulton street car I’ll go and buy something to suit me.”

“Would you want it all in one piece, or do you want pants and blouse?”

“I want a suit easy to get in and out of. I’m not particular about following the fashion. Make up something neat, plain and substantial, but don’t stick any fancy colors into it. I want it modest and serviceable.”

Mrs. Spoopendyke made up the suit, under the guidance of a lady friend, whose aunt had told her how it should be constructed. It was in one piece, and when completed was rather a startling garment.

“’I’ll try it on, to-night,” said Mr. Spoopendyke, eyeing it askance when it was handed him.

Before retiring Mr. Spoopendyke examined the suit, and then began to get into it.

“Why didn’t you make some legs to it?  What d’ye want to make it all arms for?” he inquired, struggling around to see why it didn’t come up behind. “You’ve got it on sideways,” exclaimed Mrs. Spoopendyke. “You’ve got one leg into the sleeve.”

“I’ve got to get it on sideways. There ain’t any top to it. Don’t you know enough to put the arms up where they belong?  What d’ye think I am, anyhow? A star fish? Where does this leg go?”

“Right in there. That’s the place for that leg.”

“Then where’s the leg that goes in this hole?”

“Why, the other leg.”

“The measly thing’s all legs. Who’d you make this thing for, me? What d’ye take me for, a centipede? Who else is going to get in here with me? I want somebody else. I ain’t twins. I can’t fill this business up. What d’ye call it, anyway, a family machine?”

“Those other places ain’t legs; they’re sleeves.”

“What are they doing down there? Why ain’t they up here where they belong? What are they there for, snow shoes? S’pose I’m going to stand on my head to get my arms in those holes?”

‘I don’t think you’ve got it on right,” suggested Mrs. Spoopendyke. “It looks twisted.”

“That’s the way you told me. You said, ‘put this leg here and that one there,’ and there they are. Now, where does the rest of me go?”

“I made it according to the pattern,” sighed Mrs. Spoopendyke.

“Then it’s all right, and it’s me that’s twisted,” sneered Mr. Spoopendyke. “I’ll have my arms and legs altered. All I want is to have my legs jammed in the small of my back and my arms stuck in my hips; then it’ll fit. What did you take for a pattern, a crab? Where’d you find the lobster you made this thing from? S’pose I’m going into the water on all fours? I told you I wanted a bathing suit, didn’t I?  Did I say anything about a chair cover?”

“I think if you take it off and try it on over again, it’ll work,” reasoned Mrs. Spoopendyke,

“Oh! of course. I’ve only got to humor the gastod thing. That’s all it wants,” and Mr. Spoopendyke wrenched it off with a growl.

“Now pull it on,” said Mrs. Spoopondyke.

Mr. Spoopendyke went at it again, and reversed the original order of disposing his limbs.

“Suit you now?” he howled. “That the way you meant it to go? What’s these things flopping around here?”

“Those are the legs, I’m afraid,” said Mrs. Spoopendyke, dejectedly.

“What are they doing up here? I see; oh! I see, this is supposed to represent me making a dive. When I get this on, I’m going head first. Where’s the balance? Where’s the rest? Give me the suit that represents me head up,” and Mr, Spoopendyke danced around the room in fury.

“Just turn it over, my dear,” said Mrs. Spoopendyke, “and you are all right.”

“How’m I going to turn it over?” yelled Mr. Spoopendyke. “S’pose I’m going to carry around a steam boiler to turn me over when I want the other end of this thing up? S’pose I’m going to hire a man to go around with a griddle spoon and turn me over like a flapjack, just to please this dod gasted bathing suit? D’ye think I work on pivots?”

“Just take it off and put it on the other way,” urged Mrs. Spoopendyke, who began to see her way clear.

Mr. Spoopendyke kicked the structure up to the ceiling, and plunged into it once more. This time it came out all right, and as he buttoned it up and surveyed himself in the glass the clouds passed away and he smiled. “I like it,” he remarked, “the color suits me and I think you have done very well, my dear; only,” and he frowned slightly, “I wish you would mark the arms and legs so I can distinguish one from the other, or some day I will present the startling spectacle of a respectable elderly gentleman hopping around the beach up side down. That’s all.”

The Brooklyn [NY] Daily Eagle 27 June 1880: p. 2

swimsuits 1882

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have met the irascible Mr Spoopendyke before, as he complained of the masquerade costume the much-tried Mrs Spoopendyke had selected for him. Back in the day his vile abuse passed for humourous domestic banter. If Mrs Daffodil were Mrs Spoopendyke, she would have sewed a number of lead weights into the seams and hems of the bathing costume she had so kindly constructed and would have encouraged the lout to eat a hearty lunch and then take a nice long swim, far far from shore.

 

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.

Her Bathing Suit: 1895

 

HER BATHING SUIT.

“And is there anything I can do for you, Cynthia?” She hesitated a moment, and then answered: “Yes, there is, Colville, if you don’t mind.”

“My darling, I shall be delighted.”

He tried to speak as if he meant what he said, but it required an effort. Cynthia was not only a dear, good girl, but he was engaged to her. According to the novels, he should have flung himself at her feet when she preferred [sic] her request, and vowed to go through fire and water to accomplish her most trifling wish. But Colville was an ordinary, everyday individual, and the prospect of executing a number of awkward and silly commissions and of lugging a lot of parcels from London to Folkestone didn’t appeal to him. He was compelled to ask the question, however, hoping that Cynthia would give a negative reply. To his disappointment she did precisely the opposite.

“The jewelers?” he suggested, hopefully.

Cynthia shook her head.

“I want you to go to Mme. Rossi in Bond street, you know.”

“Yes, dear,” he muttered, faintly, picturing to himself a box of gigantic and ungainly proportions done up in brown paper.

“There’s a little—”she emphasized the last word, and Colville gave vent to a sigh of relief “parcel for me, dear. Would you like to know what it is? Of course, if we were not engaged, dear, I shouldn’t think of telling you; but now, of course, it doesn’t matter. It’s a new bathing dress—there!”

“How jolly,” said Colville, faintly.

“Something wonderfully original and fetching. Mme. Rossi has designed it especially for me, and there won’t be another like it made this season. Mme. Rossi has promised me that. Won’t all the other girls be jealous?”

“Horribly. But I’m afraid I must be off now. My train goes in three minutes. Good-by!”

* * *

The down express from London was late in starting, and, as usual, a number of people just managed to catch it by the skin of their teeth. Colville was on the point of lighting a cigar, when the door of his compartment was flung open, there was a mingling of masculine and feminine voices, a frou-frou of silk, of lace, a rush and tumble and banging of doors, and a little woman and a dozen bags and parcels fell in a confused heap on the seat opposite him.

“Confound it!” muttered Colville, as he extinguished the match, which he was about to apply to his cigar; “a woman!” He opened his newspaper and scowled.

“I beg your pardon.” whispered a still, small voice, dashed with just the slightest and most chic tinge of French accent, “but can you pleese tell me if zis is ze right train for Volkes-stone-?”

Colville looked up. The little woman had settled herself and her packages and was gazing at him with a smile that showed her white teeth to the best advantage. From the pink lips, Colville’s eyes traveled to the black curls falling over the white forehead, to the piquant hat topping the shapely head, to the little pink ears, and black eyes, and then to the well-fitting, blue-serge frock, the fawn gloves, and brown shoes. Having finished his tour of inspection, he managed to murmur, “Yes,” whereupon the little woman expressed her gratitude and smiled afresh.

The simple inquiry and the equally simple reply thereto broke the ice, and from that moment, as the reporters say, the conversation became general.

“You will come and see me at Volkesstone. eh?” asked the little Frenchwoman, presently.

“Come and see you?” repeated Colville, somewhat taken aback by the invitation. He would like to have done so, certainly, but he was hardly a free agent. He was engaged to Cynthia, he mustn’t forget that. And Cynthia’s Mother, Lady Mango, was an austere puritan of the black-satin dress and crape-bonnet variety. He mustn’t forget that. And he didn’t.

“I should be delighted,” he murmured, —but “—“

“Oh, do not be afraid,” she said, laughing gayly. “I do not mean in private. Oh no! That would be shocking. But in public—”

“Public—”

“Yees. At ze Aquarium. But you must come early, or all ze seats will be taken. Everybody will come to see Mlle. Mimi—“

“What, the Human Mermaid?”

The little woman laughed.

“Look!” she said, unrolling a big sheet of paper, and holding up for his inspection a gorgeous poster, representing a comely young person clad in a curious costume and in a variety of attitudes, gyrating gracefully in a tank of water. Colville did not need to look at the brilliant production twice. The name of Mile. Mimi, the Human Mermaid, was as well known in town aa that of the prime minister. And there was a most excellent reason for this, apart from Mme. Mimi’s posters and advertisements. The Social Purity Regeneration Society, of which a bishop was president, had taken the matter in hand and publicly protested against the performance of the Human Mermaid. It was scandalous, said the S. P.R.S., and the county council was appealed to. Memorials were presented to the home secretary asking him to interdict the performance on the grounds of morality, and a band of curates, carrying banners, waited on the Bishop of London and begged his lordship to use his influence toward suppressing the public scandal. The result of all this excitement was naturally to draw renewed attention to Mile. Mimi and her striking performance, and crowds flocked to the music hall where she was appearing nightly. The dealers in opera-glasses in the neighborhood did a roaring trade, and at the clubs the absorbing question as to what Mile. Mimi’s perfectly fitting costume was composed of was hotly debated.

“Here is my costume,” she said, hugging a brown-paper parcel. “I never let it go out of my sight. It is too precious, and although entrepreneurs offer me ‘undreds of pounds for ze secret, I shake my head and say: ‘Non, non, non!” and the cheery little laugh, like the song of some happy bird, trilled out again.

Of course Colville had seen the show. Who had not? And sitting there, he could scarcely realize that quiet little woman, in the neat serge frock, was the Human Mermaid who had set all London agog and flung the nonconformist conscience off its balance by her daring audacity.

“I shall be delighted to come,” said Colville when he recovered himself, “and—“

The train came to a sudden standstill.

“All out!” yelled the guard, rushing up the platform, adding in explanation: “One of the coaches is broke down.”

The platform of the station where the train had pulled up was crowded with a mob of excursionists, and into the surging mass of dirty humanity Coville plunged, followed by Mile. Mimi. When he had scrambled through the crowd and found a seat, he looked round for his companion. But she had vanished. Before he had time to go in search of her the train was shunted, the damaged coach taken out, and the train brought into the station again. Colville fought his way into a carriage.

* * *

“You went to Mme Rossi, dear?”

“Yes, Cynthia, I did, and and—and–”

“Wasn’t the dress ready?”

“Yes, darling, and I brought it away with me, but well, to cut a long story short, we were all turned out at some confounded wayside station; there was an awful crowd of beastly excursionists, and dash it all. Cynthia, if you must have the truth, when I got to Folkestone I found that I had lost the parcel. Now, don’t get excited, there’s a dear, good girl. It can’t be far off and I’ve been down to the station five times already, and I mean to keep on going until I find it.”

“What a horrid nuisance; I must have it tomorrow. I’ve told all the girls about it, and I dare not show myself without it.”

“You shall have it tomorrow, dear, if I sit up all night and go to the station every ten minutes.”

* * *

“Yes, sir, there was a parcel found in one of the carriages of the 4:30 train from Charing Cross. It hadn’t got a label on, and so we opened it. What did your parcel contain?”

“A lady’s bathing dress.”

“Well, I suppose that’s what this is. Me and my mates couldn’t quite make it out,” and the man laughed.

“Thank goodness,” said Colville, as he slipped a shilling in the man’s hand, and, hugging his parcel, made a bolt tor the beach. He was just in time. Cynthia was standing by her machine, a frown on her brow and a look in her eyes which spoke volumes. As she saw Colville running toward her, the frown vanished and a smile came over her face.

“Good boy,” she exclaimed, as she took the parcel from the hands of the breathless man, and mounting the steps of her machine disappeared within.

* * *

“Mme. Rossi must have made a mistake,” said Cynthia, as she prepared to don her bathing-garment. “It is hardly the sort of thing I wanted. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad,” she said, contemplating herself, “and I dare say it looks all right. Anyhow, there’s hardly any one about, and so it doesn’t matter.”

The water was splendid and she felt in such perfect trim that she determined to have a longer swim than usual. Presently, feeling tired, she floated on the surface, closing her eyes and basking in the warm sunshine. When she turned toward the shore, she was surprised to see a large crowd lining the beach and what was more curious still every third person was armed with a field-glass.

“What on earth can be the matter?” she muttered, calmly swimming into shallow water. “If they are going to stare like that, I shall go in.”

She walked toward her machine. Then suddenly something caused her to look down.

She gave one wild shriek and literally fell into her bathing machine.

* * *

From Cynthia Mango to her friend Lydia Stapleton.

“I shall never dare to show my face in Folkestone again. By some horrible mistake, Colville brought me a bathing-dress which—I can hardly write the words, my cheeks are simply burning—as soon as it got wet became—oh, Lydia, think of it—almost transparent! Unconscious of this, there I was in full view of the crowded beach for nearly half an hour. Can you imagine my feelings? The local papers are full of it. Colville talks of going to India or some other horrid place and hiding himself until the scandal has blown over. Worse still, dear mother, when she heard of it—the curate brought her the news—went herself to the police station, and not knowing that I, her own daughter, was the guilty party, refused to leave the place until a promise was given to take action in the matter. When she heard the truth she took to her bed and has not been up since. I wish I were dead!”

* * *

Copy of a paragraph in the local paper.

“A great crowd turned up last night to witness the curious and much-advertised performance of Mlle. Mimi, the Human Mermaid, but before the doors were opened an announcement was made that, owing to the loss of Mlle. Mimi’s costume during her journey from town, the performance could not take place. We understand that a reward of $500 is to be offered for the recovery of the missing parcel.

The Democratic Press [Ravenna, OH] 9 January 1895: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil really has nothing more to add except that it is a pity the contretemps did not inspire Miss Mango to break off the engagement to a fiancé she regarded as a sort of human retriever, to be rewarded with “good boy” and a pat.

Mrs Daffodil has previously written about a professional swimmer here, several bathing machine stories, both fiction and non-fiction, and an actress’s mermaid palace here.

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.