Last week I presented a very yellow, very young, very sweet 1830sish dress. As always, there were a range of opinions, but I think Daniel’s summation of the dress as “Charming and very pretty, but not really holding more than passing interest/attention” best encompasses the overall view, and the resulting rating of 6.7 out of 10.
This week, in honour of the Olympics, and in honour of the only part of the Olympics I am interested in (what the athletes are wearing), I present an athletics themed garment: a ladies gym suit from the 1890s.
Women’s athletics were just becoming popular in the 1890s (having spent the previous 30 years simply gaining acceptance), but women’s bodies were still considered much weaker and more fragile than men’s, so the athletics they participated in were comparatively sedate. No women were allowed to compete in the first modern Olympics in 1896 (though one did insist on running the marathon on her own the day after the men ran). Instead, women walked, rode, and did a range of gymnastics exercises.
This gym suit, with its pleated bloomers and full middy blouse would allow a range of motion, and the full sash with balls at the end could be used for stretching and calisthenics. In darkest blue wool with red highlights, the aesthetic gives a nod to nautical fashions: quite appropriate as bathing and walking by the sea were one of the first accepted physical activities for women.
So what do you think? Is the suit an attractive example of late-Victorian modesty meeting new ideas of health? How does it compare to modern athletic gear in an aesthetic sense?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10