Skip to main content


Today, dress in Queensland can be quite casual, but until the 1960s, most women going into ‘town’– whether in Brisbane, Toowoomba or Townsville – would complete their outfits by wearing a hat and gloves. Male professionals, especially in banking, real estate and the law, still wear formal suits but the suit is usually shed the further north you go. In the 1930s, men had to wear swimming costumes which covered their torso or be threatened with arrest. Just two decades later, bikinis, manufactured and promoted on the Gold Coast, came to define female beach attire. During this era, we gradually saw a change in attitudes as scantily clad men and women moved seamlessly from shore to town. However such informality in dress is still frowned upon in large, car-based shopping malls, our new cathedrals of consumption.

Bathers posing on a beach in hats and bonnets and modest bathing costumes typical of the early century.
Paula Stafford and a model wearing a Bikini, ca1955  Creator unknown  John Oxley Library, SLQ  MMS ID 99249353402061
Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, October 18, 1934  Esther Paterson  John Oxley Library, SLQ  MMS ID 997026924702061
Image from 1967 of a young woman smiles into the camera, wearing a casual button up jacket and a mini skirt that reaches her mid thigh. In the background behind her, other people are in formal wear, with women wearing skirts reaching below their knees. A man turns to look at the young woman.