Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dazzle Camouflage Swimsuits

The photograph above of British women beach goers dressed in dazzle-style swimwear appeared in The New York Tribune (June 15, 1919, p. 4), with the following caption:

The newest things in bathing suits brighten the beach at Margate, England. The "dazzle" designs of gayest hue defeat the usual purpose of camouflage, that of promoting low visibility.

A week later, the following article, titled “Camouflage Sylphs on Coney Island an Optical Illusion: Stripes of Bathing Costumes Used by Plump Persons to Conceal Full Extent of Their Plumpness,” appeared in the same newspaper (June 23, 1919, p. 7)—

The camouflage bathing suit made its appearance yesterday at Coney Island with the result that there were all sorts of complications among the 250,000 visitors to the resort. It became apparent that the idea, lately imported from Bath, Brighton and other English watering places, has manifold possibilities.

One very stout woman on the beach, for instance, had used such artistry in the arrangement of the ‘lightning stripes’ on her costume that she presented a positively sylph-like figure to the eyes to those some twenty yards or so distant. Many persons who had seen through the deception were amused by the antics of certain sportive young men, who from time to time started in the direction of the camouflaged damsel and then, when they obtained a close-up, kept right on going.

Many of the camouflage costumes were obviously homemade, and it was evident that their wearers had not had an opportunity to perfect themselves in more that the mere elementary principles of the art. In other words, they accentuated angles instead of rounding them, and emphasized rather than concealed avoirdupoise.

It is expected, however, that the new fad will be highly developed before the season is over. Following the service yesterday of fourteen summons upon persons who appeared in the streets in uncovered bathing suits the suggestion was made that camouflage might be perfected to the point where it would hide offenders from the eagle-eyed Coney Island police.

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