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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
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Culture:American
Title:bathing suit
Date Made:1920-1930
Type:Clothing
Materials:textile: black knitted wool
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts (probably)
Accession Number:  HD 2012.23.5
Credit Line:Gift of Sylvia Smead Gallagher

Description:
Man's black knitted wool sleeveless bathing suit. The fairly high horizontal waist seam and garment dimensions (through probably stretched out) both suggest it was made for a man. Donated with two similar, but not identical) pairs of stockings which may have been worn with a separate woman's bathing suit. While the main garment consists of a tank top and bifurcated shorts, the latter part is covered by an extra modesty piece. The yarns making up the stockings are of a slightly heavier weight than those of the bathing suit, suggesting either replacement pieces or a composite purchase/creation. Up until the early 20th century, men and women swam, or bathed, separately. With relaxed social codes the two sexes began to engage in the pastime together, albeit with an eye towards modesty. Women were expected to be largely covered up in their attire. By the 1920s, bare arms were permissable for both sexes, however women's legs were still shielded by stockings. Knitted wool was the preferred material for both men's and women's bathing suits until the advent of synthetic fabrics, which were lighter in weight and easier to care for. Chest 40"; waist 37.5", hip 44"

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