What to Wear Camping a Hundred Years Ago   




A 1916 photo album featured photographs of a friendly camping trip one hundred years ago. Like today, friends gathered around the campfire, cooked over a fire, slept in a tent, and swam in a stream. But the clothing worn was remarkably different for the women. Imagine spending a few days camping outdoors in a dress rather than jeans or shorts?


group camping with tent


The book Camping Out by Warren Miller describes the appropriate clothing to pack for the “outdoor girl who camps.” In the summer she would need a khaki skirt, bloomers, and a khaki shirtwaist with half a dozen khaki collars. Outerwear included a tailored Norfolk jacket, an extra wool shirtwaist, and a sweater or Mackinaw coat to keep nice and warm.


vintage camper in dress and apron


For her feet she needed a pair of lady's high tall hunting boots (sixteen inch height) with cozy wool socks. A felt hat and tie, and a belt with a Norwegian fishing knife in its sheath, completed her wardrobe, except for a pair of buckskin gloves with cuffs, which were worn to keep warm when paddling in cold spells and around the camp at night.


Camping equipment


Camping equipment for shelter and cooking was very similar to that used today:

1. Sleeping pocket; 2. Compass and pin; 3. Camping mattress; 4, 5, 6. Folding camp furniture; 7. Sleeping bag; 8. Folding baker; 9. Folding canvas cupboard; 10. Vacuum bottle; 11. Waterproof matchbox; 12, 13, 14, 15. Canvas water pails; 16. Army kit; 17. Axe with folding guard; 18. First aid kit; 19. Metal tent peg; 20. Folding lantern; 21. Kerosene stove; 22. Folding grate; 23. Cook kit; 24. Folding baker, canvas case.


camping tent



vintage clothing woman's suit skirt and jacket


A wave of militarism swept the country during World War I and was reflected in women’s fashions. Above is a suit of khaki-colored drill that was pocketed in military style. The durable fabric was recommended for camping or hunting. There were pockets enough to carry all sorts of camping paraphernalia to say nothing of sandwiches to eat beside some inviting mountain stream.


vintage swimsuits


While vacationing outdoors, the campers enjoyed swimming in a stream. The women were dressed in modest swimsuits and not the latest styles in swimwear as advertised below..


vintage swimsuits


In 1916, Good Housekeeping magazine featured a “conservative” bathing suit that at that time was hard to find. The bathing suit on the left was of black taffeta with hem, sleeves, and neck trimmed in black braid. The cost was $12.75. The swimsuit on the right was described as “just as picturesque as the very daring suits” yet styled for the woman who “wishes to dress well without exaggerating a fashion.” The black satin bathing suit featured box pleats, shoulder buttons and white piping.