Swimsuits in 1810 Paris…



Parisians used to love to bathe in the Seine. Horrendous pollution notwithstanding, in the 18th century every summer saw people swimming in the river, generally in the nude. Only at the onset of the French Revolution was skinny-dipping outlawed, for men and women. Hence these early 19th century bathing suits, shown in a print posted by fellow historical novelist Susan Holloway Scott.

And speaking of Susan, I wish to remind everyone that her latest, The Countess and the King, was just released… A fascinating account of the life of Katherine Sedley, mistress to King James II.

Congratulations, Susan!

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11 Comments to “Swimsuits in 1810 Paris…”

  1. Many thanks for the link, Rupert! Jane didn’t bathe in the nude, did she? ;)

  2. A most intriguing post! Byron is thought to have worn breeches when bathing, in order to conceal his disfigurement, but Shelley consistently bathed naked. And what about Jane Austen, who bathed with great enthusiasm off Lyme in 1804? I reflect further on this subject at http://www.rupertwilloughby.co.uk/archives/832

  3. littleaugury says:

    had no idea- fascinating.

  4. Sylwia says:

    At least they kept swimming together. English women were separated from men at that time.

  5. Thanks, Diana, I was forgetting about Byron! I can’t imagine any kind of clothing keeping him warm in the water, long before the advent of wet suits…

  6. I wish I remembered what Lord Byron wore when he swam. He must have been nude in his swims at Cambridge, but I have an idea he wore something for warmth when swimming the Hellespont. That was in 1810. A most enticing subject for meditation…

  7. I too love the print. My pleasure for the shout-out, and I hope to interview you soon…

  8. I love this print – the more you study it, the more interesting it becomes.
    And many thanks for the shout-out for “The Countess & the King,” Catherine. :)

  9. Ah, yes, but they are less risque than bathing in the nude… These were clearly pre-Victorian times. :)

  10. Andrew says:

    Theses swimsuits seam a little risqué. During the Victorian period women and men were more covered.

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