University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Bond Collection Bathing Suit

Marion Robins’ Bathing Costume—1920s


This swim suit belonged to my great-grandmother Marion Robins.  My family owned a hotel at Gloucester Point, Virginia, which at that time was a very fashionable summer get-away from cities like Richmond.

Her fashion taste, much to her mother’s dismay, was influenced by the trend-setting summer residents of the hotel.  According to my grandmother (Marion’s daughter), this sleeveless suit caused a big stink— it was accompanied by matching knee-length black short pants that exposed an unacceptable amount of leg.

At the time, my great-grandmother was a student at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and would come home with friends on breaks.

She was a very good swimmer, and water skier later in life.  She helped to teach Red Cross swim lessons at Gloucester Point until her health prohibited it very late in life.

Joshua Bond, 2007

At the time he wrote this article, Joshua Bond was the Costume Shop Manager, University of Virginia Drama Department and also a nursing student at Piedmont Virginia Community College, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Further Information
Swim Wear History from the Vintage Fashion Guild
A history of women’s swimwear from the Vintage Fashion Guild

The Swimsuit
Wikipedia’s page on swimsuits and the history thereof

Details about Marion Robins’ Bathing Costume:  1920s Woman’s bathing costume. Originally owned by Marion Robins, Gloucester Point, Virginia. Wool tunic and tie belt; matching [knee-length] pants are missing.  Private collection of Joshua Bond, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Notice: This exhibit was created by Normajean N. Hultman, Historical Collections Assistant. For permission to reproduce any of the text or to make comments or suggestions, please contact a member of Historical Collections.

© 2009 Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia