The Virtual Dime Museum blog has a post on 1870s beach fashions that would make any reasonable person believe in the virtues of progress. It seems like flannel was “in” in 1870. Here is a taste:
When you go to the beach this summer, take a moment to consider how it would feel to be wearing the equivalent of flannel pajamas – because this is just what you’d be doing if you lived in the 1870s.
In 1872 white or colored flannel “with shaded bands and woven fringe” was suggested for bathing costumes – matched with flannel bathing caps and flannel shoes, too. (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 1, 1872, p. 3) Peterson’s Magazine agreed: in 1870, they noted that
…the best materials used for bathing-dresses are gray or dark-blue flannel, being the lightest in texture, cheapest in price, but [than?] moreen or tweed [!!]; and some persons recommend common bed-ticking as being better than anything else.
Read the entire post here.