Seaside Holidays activity 14: design a vintage bathing costume
Explore the history and customs of sea-bathing from the 18th century to the present day, using the beaches of Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe as your examples.
Investigate the changing fashions, materials and shapes of swimwear, from full body coverage to the scandalous bikini.
Then design your own vintage swimming costume to impress the holiday crowds.
Knowledge and understanding of sea-bathing and seaside fashions, of different materials. Skills and confidence in costume design.
KS1-4 Art and Design (fashion, clothes design)
KS1-2 History (Local Area Study, seaside holidays).
Use Learn with Objects Seaside holidays 16: woolly as your starting point.
Think about the following questions:
- What were swimming costumes like in the past?
- When were they invented?
- What did people do before that?
- What are they like today?
- Were they as colourful in the past?
- What materials were they made from?
- Were there disadvantages? (soak up water, shrink, take ages to dry).
- What were Victorian costumes like? Why?
- What else did Victorian bathers use so they couldn’t be seen entering the water?
- Where did people get their costumes from?
- Were they all bought in shops?What is the bikini?
- What were costumes like in the 1960s and 1970s?
Ask the children to research some of the above questions across the Learn with Objects Seaside holidays topic and online. What evidence can they find from Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe?
Ask the children to research swimwear designs from the past - including ones advertised in high street shops, by top fashion designers and those sold as knitting patterns to make at home.
There are great vintage swimming costumes on display in this Pathé Newsreel footage from 1954, which shows Channel swimmers from around the world in training at Folkestone’s outdoor swimming pool.
Design a vintage swimsuit
Using the swimming costumes you have researched for inspiration, create your own vintage swimsuit design for a boy or girl.
It should be drawn in colour, or made from real fabric samples, showing both the front and back of the design, and highlighting which fabrics it’s made from.