Girl's Gym and Camp Bloomers/Rompers: Chronology


Figure 1.--This little American girl was photographed with her mother who was visiting her at camp. The photograph was taken about 1934. Note the bloomer camp uniform. Do you recognize the girl? It is future film star Lauren Becal.

A outfit related to rompers--bloomer pants usually with middy blouses became adopted as a gym costume and sports uniform for girls in many American highschools. I think they were a;lso worn in Europe, although there were differences frfom country to country. We do not yet have much information. Actually this was similar to girls' bathing costumes (swim suits). We are not sure when just when girls began wearing rompers/bloomers. We believe this first occurred in the 19th century. We think it was forst for sport in gym classes in the late 19th century, but we do not yet have information on the 19th century. Nor do we know just where it first occurred. Amelia Blooer first introduced bloomers in the mid-19th century, but it was considered rather scandlolous and it was sometime before parents allowed their daugters to wear them. We do know that rompers/bloomers worn with long stockings were a standard by the 1910s. A good example is the Coalinga High School girls basketball team in 1916. I am not sure if they wee called rompers or bloomers or if this changed over time. We also believe that they were worn at summer camps at least in the 1930s. Here we see them being used as a camp uniform about 1934 (figure 1). The camp uniform here was a two piece outfit, a top worn with bloomer pants. By the 1940s, bloomer outfits were still being used as a girls gym outfit in secondary schools. I can remember as a Virginia high school student in 1958 that the girls wore rompers rather than shorts for gym. They were light blue rompers and as short as shorts would have been. I rememember when I was in highschool (1957-61) that the girls thought that they were terribly old fashioned and some girls also complained that they were childish.

The 19th Century

We are not sure when just when girls began wearing rompers/bloomers. We believe this first occurred in the 19th century. We think it was forst for sport in gym classes in the late 19th century, but we do not yet have information on the 19th century. Nor do we know just where it first occurred. Amelia Blooer first introduced bloomers in the mid-19th century, but it was considered rather scandlolous and it was sometime before parents allowed their daugters to wear them.

The 20th Century

We do know that rompers/bloomers worn with long stockings were a standard by the 1910s. A good example is the Coalinga High School girls basketball team in 1916. I am not sure if they wee called rompers or bloomers or if this changed over time. We also believe that they were worn at summer camps at least in the 1930s. Here we see them being used as a camp uniform about 1934 (figure 1). The camp uniform here was a two piece outfit, a top worn with bloomer pants. By the 1940s, bloomer outfits were still being used as a girls gym outfit in secondary schools. I can remember as a Virginia high school student in 1958 that the girls wore rompers rather than shorts for gym. They were light blue rompers and as short as shorts would have been. I rememember when I was in highschool (1957-61) that the girls thought that they were terribly old fashioned and some girls also complained that they were childish. Other readers have mentoned wearing them throughout the 1960s. We believe, however, that by the 1970s that they were no longer common.








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Created: April 12, 2004
Last updated: 8:01 PM 5/18/2010