1950s Swimwear Fashion History
In the 1940s corset manufacturers saw a gap in the
Corsetry was losing ground, but the new more revealing swimsuits really needed
experts to design garments that hid faults in a woman's shape.
achieved this by adding stretch tummy control panels to hold in the stomach.
Most also used bra cups and boning to give bust support.
Fashion swimming costumes could then be worn either strapless or with small
straps that buttoned onto the inside or worn halter style as in this example.
Even then women were not keen on lighter body marks that may have made a
strapless dance dress look less attractive.
Right - Pat my sister in her 1950s Swimsuit -
eat your heart out.
Women still continued to wear all in one swimwear in the 1950s, rarely wearing a daring two piece bikini.
Zips were still used in the centre back of
swimsuits retaining the corset like appearance until the early 1960s.
Sometimes zips were put in the side seam. The swim suits
of the 50s
and early 60s were cut straight across the top of the leg in the
form of a modesty apron that hid the separate matching fabric crutch. Subtle
changes occurred in a few years and the modesty apron style soon looked old
fashioned. Take a look at
one piece bathing suits and playsuits so typical of the 1950s.
Apron Style Swim Suits and
Play Suit of the 1950s
Each one of the late 1950's swimsuits above had
detachable straps and almost very woman appears to be wearing what we
would view as the equivalent of a beach corset! This is
particularly noticeable in the mustard version which seems to almost be
a coloured corselette. Some of these swim suits were from
Marks and Spencers who still make one piece swimwear today.
wide range of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched
waffle nylon were popular for 1950s swimwear. You can see a floral version of a
waffle elasticated swimsuit on the far left above. Immediate
right is an example of a ruched
swimsuit similar to the floral one above. Such swimsuits were even more popular among children.
The legs on the
floral and red swim costumes are also the 'high cut' leg of the day.
Today such legs cuts would be described on the label as low cut as suits
have become cut much higher up the leg in an effort to make the leg seem
longer and of course exposing more body at the same time. For similar retro swimwear you may find something suitable at
Popina. Try Poppiswim
Retro Swimwear Boutique for retro styles like this one called Grace
and shown left. It really is superb reproduction swimming costume
and figure flattering suit. With
Mad Men all
the rage how can you resist.
In the fifties the bikini was still thought of as risqué and
best suited to film stars and strippers, but a tame version of the fashion a two
piece playsuit was often seen as were skirted 1950s swimsuits.
Two piece suits had sturdy patterned fabric bras with
secure wide straps which were set atop shorts with modesty skirts were popular.
They were especially favoured by women who wanted to hide their lumpy
thighs or hide varicose veins. These were
made in satin cotton and printed with exotic vivid prints.
Hair was so important to the fifties look that no woman wanted
it to get wet when swimming, so lavish bathing caps covered in flowers, petals
and rubber spikes became essential beach accessories.
This bathing suit fashion also moved onto fashionable
occasion hats as decorative clusters of flowers that smothered the hats
creating a cloche festooned totally with flowers.
For the beach women liked wrap shirts or button through dresses or
simple towelling dresses as cover ups. Sarongs, kangas or pareos
only really gained popularity 20 years later.
This vintage dress pattern cover
shows the typical cover up of the era and a playdress which
follows the exact lines of day dresses of the era but allows for tanning
Think of those old fifties films with women by the
pool and you see the chic glamour taken to the beach swimwear.
Teenagers and Teddy Boys
Page Added 10 June 2005.
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For more information about the 1950s Era and main links
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