Bathing Etiquette in Melbourne 1925
Bec’s bathing costume certainly upset Daniel’s equilibrium in Kiss by Kiss.
In 1925, bathing regulations were the responsibility of local councils. The by-laws for Williamstown Beach were conservative and it wasn’t uncommon for offenders to be fined. They forbade the sitting, lying, playing ball games, or loitering on the beach clad only in a bathing costume. Bathers were required to proceed in a direct line from the water to the bathing sheds when clad in their neck to knee costumes.
But Williamstown, it appears was not a patch on Cottesloe in Western Australia which forbade bathing unless attired in ‘a two-piece costume of dark-coloured serge, flannel or flannelette, extending over the shoulders and to the knees.’
It appears though that a blind eye was at times turned to the nature of the costume itself. As reported in the Williamstown Chronicle on January 1924, ‘on holidays it is hardly to be expected that the bathing costumes would all comply with the regulation “neck to knee.” As a matter of fact, the costumes worn were all sorts and sizes.’
And of course, for others the neckline of their bathing costume needed not to compromise their dance and evening frocks. Ensuring the back was cut lower than the front and with a narrow shoulder strap would ensure bronzed neck and arms were shown to best effect, avoiding the “watermark” effect.