Wesley and Constance Mueller diving in their denim suits (Bahamas, 1938).
Advertisements from 1970 Skin Diver magazines.
Advertisements from 1977 Skin Diver magazines.
Advertisements from 1984 Skin Diver magazines.
Of course, the Muellers and Art McKee didn't have the luxury of wearing wetsuits in the early days, as they weren't "officially" invented until 1952 by Hugh Bradner (Taylor 2008). Over the years, as recreational diving became more popular and less expensive, style became an increasingly important component in marketing wetsuits. Let's face it, everyone wants to look good, especially when they are wearing a skin-hugging neoprene suit. The advertisements above clearly illustrate this, with color and designs increasing significantly over time, until ultimately exploding in a blinding flash of color and hair in the 1980's. Not everyone prefers a wetsuit (see Jacqueline Bisset in her famous diving outfit from the 1977 film The Deep), but their functionality remains the most important factor in their success, keeping divers and other watersport enthuisiasts warm, bouyant and scrape-free.
So the question now becomes: what do you like to wear when you dive? Do you have a favorite or funny diving outfit? We want to hear about it! Comment on our blog below or post a picture of your favorite diving outfit to our new Flickr pool! To get the sharing started, here are photos of Erin and I modeling the very latest in wetsuit fashion. Ok, maybe not the very latest...but it certainly beats 1984!
Taylor, Michael (2008). Hugh Bradner, UC's inventor of wetsuit, dies. In San Francisco Chronicle (May 11, 2008). Accessed July 8, 2011. Web link.