At the beginning of the 20th century, when men and women went to the beach, splashing about in the surf was called bathing rather than swimming. According to swimwear collector Pam Fierro, “Swimming didn’t come into vogue until the 1920s.” Part of the problem was that many people simply didn't know how to swim, but early-1900s bathing costumes, as they were called, were also to blame—it’s tough to do the Australian crawl when you are covered from head to toe in heavy, water-absorbing wool.
That changed in the 1920s, when it became acceptable for men and women alike to show a little bit of skin at the beach or by the pool. Sunbathing came into vogue, as did actual swimming, although logic tells us there were probably more people enjoying the former than the latter. Swimwear of that period was often paired with fashion accessories like hats and parasols, and still is today.
One company to capitalize on these two coincidences of history was Jantzen, which proclaimed the new free spirit for female swimmers with its classic diving-girl logo, which was stitched on the outside of their suit’s left thigh. Catalina put its logo, a flying fish, in the same spot. Jantzen and Catalina suits of the 1920s and ’30s, including Jantzen’s Shouldaire, were still made of wool, but there was less material to drag the swimmer down, as the arms, legs, neck, and back were now bare.
Wool suits from this period are quite collectible today, but wool was not the only material used by swimwear manufacturers. Stretch satin was also employed, and by the 1940s, when the first two-piece suits began to appear, nylon and Celanese rayon were also popular. The obvious benefit these materials had over wool was their weight, which made them more comfortable to wear and faster to dry.
By the 1950s, swimwear designers were sprinkling the outsides of their one-piece swimsuits with rhinestones and elaborate appliqué designs. Clothing and costume designer Rudi Gerhreich, who’s best know today for inventing the topless monokini in 1964, first gained acclaim in 1956 when his pink, wool, one-piece swimsuit, with buttons down the front, was featured on the cover of “Collier’s” magazine.
But the biggest news of the 1950s and ’60s was the widespread acceptance of the smallest swimsuit ever, the bikini. As usual, Hollywood paved the way for its acceptance. Ava Gardner and Lana Turner had donned two-piece suits in the 1940s, but their outfits were tame compared to the bikini worn by Bridget Bardot in the 1956 film “And God Created Woman.”
In 1960, pop singer Brian Hyland made a hit of "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," and in 1962 the original “Bond girl,” Ursula Andress, wore a white bikini in the first film of that series, “Dr. No.” Still, not all women were confident enough to swim or sunbathe wearing so little, as evidenced by the Sears catalog of 1964, which promised its customers “swimsuit glamour” when wearing its latest one-piece Lycra and nylon suits.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Fashion Columbia Study Collection
1960s Fashion and Textiles
Vintage Fashion Guild
Clubs & Associations
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Womens Swimwear
Source: Google News
Lindsay Lohan flashes ample assets as she strips off for topless selfie in ...Express.co.uk, August 4th
A few weeks ago, the stunner put on another eye-popping display when she decided to forgo conventional swimwear and instead donned a white lingerie set to frolic in the sea. With its plunging neckline, the former child star risked spilling out of her...Read more
Sun, surf and Saints in New OrleansNOLA.com, August 4th
It's August, and our thoughts are turning to football and the boys in black and gold. But there's still plenty of beach weather as well. Why not combine them? NOLA Bikinis, with its Saints and Mardi Gras themed swimsuits, is the latest in a string of...Read more
Celebrated international swimwear designers to showcase at CFW Swim 2016Hiru News, August 4th
Recently, the brand designed vintage swimsuits for the Hollywood movie Life of Pi by Ang Lee. Brazilian flip-flop brand Havaianas has also collaborated with Shivan & Narresh for a special collection. For CFW Swim 2016, the brand will present its Cruise ...Read more
Check Out The Hottest Celeb Pics This WeekOK Magazine, August 3rd
Special guest, actress and home décor enthusiast Ashley Greene, also discovered her own favorite #15MinReno tips, like using the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Power to restore a vintage vinyl or plastic chair and using Mr. Clean Concentrated Cleaner to...Read more
2015 sales tax holiday rules at a glanceBradenton Herald, August 2nd
period, Florida law dictates no sales tax or local option tax will be collected on the following purchases: Clothing, accessories or footwear for $100 or less per item including backpacks, book bags, fanny packs, handbags, purses, wallets, baby...Read more
Style diktats: carwash skirts and swimwear with a touch of the kinkySouth China Morning Post (subscription), August 1st
Its twist-back bikini top (HK$1,279; www.frwd.com) in solid and sheer black carries far less risk of a nip slip, and looks gorgeous when paired with the retro, high-waisted bikini bottoms (HK$658). Like a bit of leather? Then the Hana neoprene bikini...Read more
How to Wear a Retro Swimsuit Like a Celeb: A Case for the High-Waisted BikiniE! Online, July 20th
We like to consider ourselves fashion risk-takers on all fronts, but when it comes to the high-waisted bikini (or any body-exposing swimsuit for that matter), we find ourselves thinking twice about the statement we're making with our beach threads. If...Read more
PHOTOS: Bathing Beauties rock vintage swimwear on Galveston IslandKTRK-TV, May 17th
The Galveston Island Beach Revue, presented by Hotel Galvez & Spa, celebrating Galveston's connection to the days of bathing beauty pageants and classic summer fun hosted "Retro-Active" games for the kids, a charcoal championship cook-off, and classic ...Read more