Bathing dresses in the mid-1800s were made of wool, and intended to cover the body in a way that would allow the wearer to move more freely than they were used to. Corsets were still worn with bathing dresses.
The description for the print above from Godey's Lady's Book:
"Figure 1: Turkish pants of a gray and white striped material, fastened at the ankle with an elastic cord. Paletôt dress of a dark blue and black flannel, made with a small cape, and trimmed with black mohair braid. Oil silk hat, bound and trimmed with scarlet binding.
Figure 2: Suit of pearl-colored flannel, trimmed with dark blue flannel, and braided in a plain Grecian pattern with narrow blue braid. Cap of oil silk, trimmed with dark blue flannel.
Figure 3: Suit of black cloth, bound with scarlet flannel. The collar is of scarlet flannel, also the cap, which is trimmed with black braid and a long black tassel.
Figure 4: Suit of scarlet flannel, trimmed with wide and narrow black braid. The dress is decorated with applications of black cloth, cut in the shape of anchors. The hat is of white straw, trimmed with scarlet braid."
Godey's Lady's Book was one of the most popular magazines of the time. It was said that Southern soldiers, fighting up North would send home copies to their girlfriends who were not getting them through the blockade. It was said that these rare copies were passed around from one girl to another that soon they consisted only of scraps as girls were so curious to see what the latest fashions were.
I find around this time of year, I get the biggest urge to sew and will collect a huge pile of things that I would love to wear. :) I know I have no use for and would not have the money to sew most of it but it is still fun to make a big collection of "things you wish you could wear." I particularly like Figure No. 2 in the above etching.
When I look at my big stack of clippings, I always feel like the girl in the cartoon below who is being "punished" for being a traitor. "Let her see but not touch the latest novelties in Hats, Dry-Goods, ect." One can only imagine what Southern women of the era, wished they could wear!