Practical? Maybe. Fashionable? We’ll let you decide. Creepy as hell? Definitely.
We may not have had as deep an understanding of UV rays in the early 1940s as we do now, but people still wanted to protect themselves from the sun.
Today, a trip to the beach warrants a pair of sunnies, a hat, SPF30+ sunscreen, protective clothing and plenty of shade from a tree or umbrella.
Back then, sunscreen was yet to be invented (until chemist Franz Greiter came up with the first effective formula in 1946), and one of the more popular options in sun-soaked Florida was to wear this terrifying cape/hospital gown/executioner’s hood for a day out in the sunshine.
Maybe it’s just the black and white photography that’s creeping us out.
The cape comes with built-in sunnies, which is a blessing given that UV light can cause serious damage to the cornea, the lens and the retina. You can even get sunburn on the eyes – yikes!
However, it would be safe to say the “freckleproof hood” looks decidedly less stylish, comfortable and practical than a modern hat and pair of shades.
The photo was published in an American newspaper in April 1940. Here’s the accompanying story:
Freckleproof Cape Protects Bather
Fair Floridians who fear freckles have adopted the odd hooded cape pictured in the photograph below, taken at an Atlantic beach resort. Made of a polka-dot print fabric, the freckleproof cape has an attached hood equipped with built-in sun glasses to further protect the wearer from the effects of strong sunlight.
Damn, that alliteration.