Believe it or not, there was once a time when even one-piece bathing suits were considered too risqué for public display. With credit to the poster, Joe Phalon, I saw a clipping from an August, 1920 edition of the Courier-News regarding swim wear in Pequannock posted to the Pequannock Township, New Jersey Facebook group.

The city fathers were apparently aghast at the modern styles that were being paraded around the Pequannock River. The town had supposedly been receiving complaints about the scantily clad (for the day) people frolicking near the river. The Township Committee, in response, passed an ordinance prohibiting the wearing of one piece bathing suits; henceforth, “Women bathers must wear stockings, trunks to the knees, and skirts that reach midway between the hip and knee.” Men must “wear suits composed of trunks and shirt.” The ordinance also prohibited bathers from walking down the street without covering their bathing suits. Violators were to be fined $5.

Of course, Pequannock wasn’t the only New Jersey municipality concerned with too much flesh being shown on the beaches. In 1921 a female sun bather was arrested in Atlantic City for rolling her stockings past her knees while on the beach. Atlantic City also later passed an ordinance prohibiting one piece bathing suits and bare (female) legs. It wasn’t until 1937 that men in Atlantic City were allowed to go shirtless on the beach, too. But bathing suit rules changed with the culture. The modern bikini showed up in 1946, designed by a French engineer, Louis Reard, and the beaches haven’t been the same.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

Travel back in time to a colorized Atlantic City circa 1919

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