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File:Old time swin suits 8554.jpg

Back in the day, people who wanted to go swimming in mixed company but keep their modesty would wear bathing costumes that covered nearly as much skin as their regular clothing. In fact, men could be arrested for swimming topless. These are relatively rare in Western culture in the current day, but are still used in cultures where body modesty is considered paramount, such as among Muslims (the style is called a "burqini").

In fiction, these will be seen either in period stories where they're appropriate, or on an individual character to show that he or she is hopelessly old-fashioned, extremely modest, or downright prudish. Stereotypically, the horizontally striped models from between 1900 and 1910 are used (the page image is from 1906), as swimwear started becoming more daring in the 1920s.

Note that in the late 19th century it was often still considered obscene to be seen even in an Old-Timey Bathing Suit, and beaches installed elaborate bathing machines to ensure there was no chance of accidentially seeing a woman's legs from the beach. That made this kind of swimsuit also a Porn Trope when bathing machines were at their zenith, before mixed gender bathing started to become more acceptable in the 1900s. This pornographic illustration from 1902 (entirely worksafe today) would have been popular in period Porn Stashes.

Contrast the Barely-There Swimwear.

Examples of Old-Timey Bathing Suit include:


  • Country Time Lemonade Flavored Drink Mix used to have a series of ads with a grandpa who said, "Tastes like good old-fashioned lemonade -- not too tart, not too sweet!" One was a Beach Episode, during which he wore one of these.

Anime & Manga

  • In The Daughter of Twenty Faces, during the very brief Beach Episode, Tome wears one of these, though it's much more clingy than was the intention of the original artists.
  • Ranma One Half
    • Soun Tendô wears one of these each time they go to the beach, although the rest of the cast wear normal bathing suits.
    • Happôsai and Cologne, too. Thank goodness.
  • The Wallflower: Sunako Nakahara, being the sort of girl she is, wears a striped Victorian-styled bathing-suit whenever she goes swimming.
  • The girls in Zero no Tsukaima wore such bathing suits, and the plot of the Beach Episode centered on the guys getting them into more provocative swimsuits from Saito's world.
  • In Ladies Versus Butlers, Kaoru Daichi is, after much panicking, given one of these by Tomomi for the Beach Episode.
  • Dr. Eggman in Sonic X wore one of these in one episode, stripes and all. All things considered, this was probably for the best.
  • The servants wear some in Black Butler, episode 7. May Linn still manages to bring some Fan Service, though. The anime is set in the late 1800s. Regardless of how much they cover, Maylene's bathing suit still would have been scandalously unmodest for the time.
  • Kanade Jinguji in Best Student Council wears such a bathing suit, and even gives one out as a gift. Only her most dedicated fangirl will willingly wear it and Kanade can't quite comprehend why that is.

Comic Books

  • Archie Comics has done a few stories with the gang dressed up in old-timey swimsuits ("bathing costumes"). One story actually had Riverdale transported back in time, and when they went to the beach Veronica was very nearly arrested for wearing a swimsuit where you could see her (gasp!) ankles and shoulders!
  • Dupond and Dupont (Thomson and Thompson) wear old-fashioned bathing suits in one of the Tintin stories.
  • Shows up in The Beano occasionally. If it's done at all recently, you can bet that it'll be someone's parents wearing them, with the kids groaning in shame at the sight.

Films -- Live-Action


  • In Belles on Their Toes, the girls are wearing skirted bathing suits with leggings in 1924, when one-piece suits are starting to become the norm. Mother's is even worse, described as "practically a Gay Nineties model" and able to pass for a circus tent. Martha scandalizes her sisters when she forgets her suit and decides to wear just the underpart of her mother's.
  • In Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright, the children borrow bathing suits similar to these from their elderly neighbor Mr. Pindar Payton. (At the advice of Mrs. Minnehaha Cheever, Mr. Payton's sister, the two girls wear boys' swimsuits because the girls' version would be rather cumbersome.)
  • In All-of-a-Kind Family, the girls take a trip to the beach with their mother. An illustration shows them wearing the typical bathing dresses of the era that cover most of their bodies but leaves the lower portions of their arms and legs bare.

Live-Action TV

  • On Thirty Rock, Liz prefers one of these when going on a beach vacation.
  • The First Doctor imagines himself in one when aliens attempt to read his mind in the Doctor Who serial "The Space Museum".
  • On one episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy buys what Ricky assumes is a one-piece swimsuit for Little Ricky. It's actually for Lucy herself. "It stretches."
  • In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton get in trouble for throwing a party in the pool house and are taken to court by Phil. When asked to tell their side, the boys spin a tale of an innocent, chaste gathering where everyone's wearing old-timey suits.


  • The cover of In the Aeroplane over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel depicts these.
  • The Beatles wore them along with straw boater hats on an early beachside photo shoot.

Video Games

  • Welkin, protagonist of Valkyria Chronicles, favors the horizontal stripes during the Beach Episode bonus chapter. It's pretty out of style in 1935, but no more than some of the modern-day fashions his troops are wearing. Note that the women in the sequence all wear much skimpier modern suits (except for Eleanor Varrot who thinks herself too old). Leaving miffed fangirls without a Welkin Shirtless Scene.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, there's a sidequest in which you can earn swimsuit costumes for some of your party members. Regal's swimsuit is in this style, although not striped...and this despite the fact that Zelos gets a speedo. It could be justified as Tethe'allan fashion being outdated by our current standards, except the others all have modern style swimwear, and the fact that there are bunny girls in Altamira. Which is where Regal is from and the swimsuit sidequest takes place. Fangirls were a little miffed about this one, too, but it was fortunately corrected in The Anime of the Game.
  • One of Zafira's unlockable swimsuits in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny. The other one is a Fundoshi.

Web Comics

  • Cecania from Sore Thumbs wears an early 20th century swimsuit because her figure is so spectacular the U.S Congress passed a law specifically prohibiting her from wearing anything more revealing to protect public morality.
  • Everyone, male and female, wears these in the Beach Episode of Tiny Kitten Teeth except for Mewsli (who wears ordinary trunks). Since the comic is, by all indications, set in the present, this can likely be chalked up to the eccentricities of rich people.
  • Phil Foglio's Author Avatar wears one in this bonus strip of Girl Genius. Kaja's Avatar, on the other hand, has different tastes.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons
    • Marge wears this in the King Kong parody in a "Treehouse of Horror".
    • Marge's mother was once forced off the beach by police for "indecent exposure". She was wearing one of these, but it showed off too much "gam".
    • Abe wears one on the beach in "Catch 'Em If You Can".
  • Popeye
    • Olive Oil is only ever seen in this kind of suit when at the beach.
    • Popeye wore one at least once, already laughably out of date in the mid-1930s. He's called out for wearing one in I Wanna Be a Lifeguard and laughed at for how horribly out of date it is by everyone at the pool. The others (including Bluto) wear a more fashionable swimsuit for the 1930s.
  • In the American Dad episode "An Incident at Owl Creek", Stan makes Hayley wear one of these to a pool party.
  • Phineas and Ferb takes it a step further with the Klimpaloon, a living bathing suit meant to spoof myths about the Yeti. As the song says:

 "He's the magical, old-timey bathing suit that lives in the Himalayas, they call him Klimpaloon. (Klimpaloon...)"

  • The Paedofinder General in Monkey Dust wears one... which makes sense, since he would likely consider the exposure of skin in public to be a form of paedophilia.
  • Bugs Bunny wears one lifted from the Coney Island Baths in Frigid Hare, when he shows up at the North Pole (or South Pole, or wherever penguins and Eskimos coexist).
  • In the 1955 Sylvester And Tweety cartoon Sandy Claus, Granny (often portrayed as an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century schoolmarm, teases the audience that she is going to try on her "new bikini bathing suit" during a trip to the beach ... and emerges from a beachhouse wearing a full bathing suit and shower cap. (Incidentally, this was the final Sylvester and Tweety cartoon to feature the "old-style" Granny, as voiced by Bea Bernadet. Future cartoons featured a re-styled Granny and her voice done by actress June Foray.)
  • Tom wears one in every Beach Episode of Tom and Jerry. Strangely enough, Tom still wears it in Tom and Jerry Tales, 60 years later!
  • The Legend of Korra, being set in a 1920's analog, features these for the men, but women have much more modern swimwear.
  • In the comic adaptation of the Beach Episode of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan, Alan is seen wearing a striped version of an old-timey men's swimsuit instead of the trunks or speedos worn by his other brothers. The actual episode averts this, with the boys in swim trunks and the girls in two-piece suits.