Congratulations again to Meme for her correct answer to last week’s contest: WHEN? This bathingsuit is indeed from the early 1950s!
Ladies – we should be thankful for the current state of bathingsuits. This is in no way an endorsement for inappropriately small bikinis, or a praise of the bathingskirt…but at least we don’t have metal zippers, plastic or metal over-wires, and our suits aren’t made of wool!
A brief history:
1920s – Women sighed a collective sigh of relief when the long bathing dresses of the early 1900s were gone. But, I believe their love for the androgynous suits of the 1920s was a love by comparison. As Pauline Thomas so truly points out, “The swimsuit legs stopped at an unflattering point mid thigh and beneath the swimsuit legs were built-in modesty shorts.” And they were made of wool. Itchy wool. With sand. OH! And, there were modesty police on the beaches to ensure that suits weren’t too short! (photo credit)
1930s – The arrival of lastex and shorter skirts made swimming a lot easier and suits look a lot less like daywear. Enter Hollywood’s influence, and women were purchasing multiple suits to keep up with the fasion! (photo credit)
1940s – Enter the bikini!! “The first bikini swimwear is introduced in Paris. Invented by engineer Louis Reard, and named after the Bikini Atoll (site of a nuclear weapons test), because the bathing suits would cause a burst of excitement, like the bomb.” (source) Despite the success of the two-piece, the one-piece got a makeover of it’s own that made it more flattering. Tummy panels were integrated, as was boning and over- and under-wires, making the suit amplify the woman’s figure. (photo credit)
We haven’t escaped the “modesty apron” – but it has shrunk considerably. The 1940s saw a decline in corsetry, but elements were kept in the suits of this decade – including a continuation of boning, controlling panels, and zippers. Straps – like the ones on our suit – were detachable. Not only did this allow for better tan lines, but it made the suit more customizable, resulting in a better fit.
1960s – Enter Lycra. The ability to have a suit basically stick to the skin meant no more worring about boning or zippers! A lot of the styles of the 1940s-50s stuck around, so there were still some modesty aprons, cutouts, and generous bikinis (especially when compared to today’s standards). The legs on one-pieces started to creep higher as they competed with bikinis for sex-appeal and femininity. (photo credit)
1970s – Creativity is key. You’re hard-pressed to find a particular stylefor the ’70s, other than diverse and free-spirited. I’ll let Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs speak for themselves. (photo credit)
I have a hard time thinking of the 1980s as vintage, since I’m not vintage (yet) and I’m from the ’80s!
This fabulous ’50s suit will be available in our upcoming Etsy store!
Be sure to make your guess on this week’s contest: WHY? before next Wednesday!