Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Guest Post:100 years of swimwear: Full of bloomers and sexy swimming hat

First of all let me start by thanking the lovely Elizabeth for letting me do a guest post on her fabulous blog. I will happily make you a huge cake and send it to you, that is if I don't eat it all first. So the lovely girl has gone on holiday, it seems everyone apart from me is going off to sunnier climes and getting a fabulous natural tan. Honestly what does a girl have to do to be able to lust over a hunky Spanish waiter?

Us ladies pack so much for our holiday, we apparently squeeze over 44 items into a suitcase and only wear half of them. Personally that majority of those 44 items for me would be shoes. Six bikini's are packed for a fortnight and only three are used. We obsess about having the perfect summer body with the TOWIE lot encouraging us to do 'No Carbs before Marbs', but who wants to deny themselves a Krispy Kreme, I know I can't. Wearing a bikini on the beach is our own version of having a catwalk, we can't all model for Dior. We imagine ourselves strutting our stuff in a gorgeous bikini making us look like Kate Moss with 4 inch wedges on and impeccable hair. The reality is that we stumble on the sand with our heels on doing a Naomi Campbell fall and our hair gets blown about by the sea wind making us look more like a windswept Sheepdog then Miranda Kerr.

These days there are so many things you can wear on the beach, bikinis, tankinis, monokinis hey, even a mankini if you want, there's so much choice. Hey what happened to the swimming costumes we used to wear as kids with duck arm bands? But women haven't always had so much of a choice.

During the early 1900s, people flocked to the beach for popular seaside activities such as swimming, surfboarding, and diving. The only activity for women in the ocean involved jumping through the waves while holding onto a rope attached to an off-shore buoy, sounds so much fun doesn't it? Their clumsy Victorian and Edwardian style bathing costumes that consisted of a jacket worn over three quarter length trousers were a but impractical. Plus how can you get a tan in that outfit?
Women began to dress in black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses, often featuring a sailor collar, and worn over bloomers or drawers trimmed with ribbons and bows. The bathing costume was typically accessorized with long black stockings, lace-up bathing slippers, and fancy caps.
In 1910 bathing skirts and bloomers with their yards of fabric were reduced to show the figure a little bit more and have more exposure to the sun. You could still hide your wobbly bits though thankfully. 

By 1915, women athletes began to swim more, so heavy fabric swimsuits were reduced and became more athletic and androgynous looking. Think Alexa Chung but a lot more covering up going on.

In the early 1920s women’s bathing suits finally changed into a one piece garment with a long top that covered shorts. Though matching stockings were still worn, swimwear began to shrink and more flesh was exposed from the bottom of the trunks to the tops of the stockings, let the squats and leg lifts begin. As women became more liberated due to the Chanel wave in fashion and they put their long skirts at the back of the cupboard, the athletic look was well suited to this era.

They were made of wool jersey, so became pretty heavy when you got out of the water and often small shoes were worn with this look, while women posed on the beach. The fashion was to have a striped or abstract pattern, even then women knew how to use patterns to hide those bumps. By the mid-1920s Vogue magazine was telling its readers that “the newest thing for the sea is a jersey bathing suit as near a maillot (a one piece) as the unwritten law will permit.' Basically that means show that fabulous booty you've got off as much as possible.

The 1930's was the decade of sun worshipping. Oogling over the ice cream man whilst trying to get a flawless tan became a popular pastime. Woollen suits were replaced with Lastex stretchy cotton fabrics and the one piece changed, so you could show more skin to the sun and not get huge tan lines, as well as being more efficient for sports such as swimming and synchronised swimming. 

Ones with boyish type cut legs and little over skirts to hide the thights gradually became popular with the exposed v-neck even being invented. Some vivacious women even dared to expose their midriffs with cut out sections. That was practically naked in those days. Now you can walk down the street and within five minutes see a handful of midriffs, what with bralets and boobtubes. Hollywood stars began to pose in swimsuits and having the latest fashion became top on the list of a woman's priorities, that and building their shoe collection.
Due to the devastating war there was a huge fabric shortage. Skirts were shortened and women had to make do and mend. This resulted in women and factories having to make smaller swimsuits with cutout midriffs. The tankini was born and women had a lot more options in styles! with halter and bandeau bras and skirted bottoms and shorts. Bottoms were high waisted and covered the tummy button and were low on the hips showing off all those leg lifts they'd done since March with wrap shirts, button through dresses or simple towelling dresses hiding any wobbly bits.

This was the decade when you were able to mix and match colours, patterns and styles. Two pieces became extremely popular by the end of the decade and pin ups such as Rita Hayworth were seen flaunting their curves in them. I mean who doesn't want to look like the lovely Rita?

The first bikinis appeared just after World War II. Early styles were not much different from the women's two pieces seen in the 1920s, except that they had a gap below the breast line allowing for a section of bare midriff. They were named after Bikini Atoll, the site of several nuclear weapons tests, for their supposed explosive effect on the viewer. Then any man would go weak at the knees at the sight of flesh so the name is pretty appropriate.

With stars like Marilyn Monroe becoming famous in the 50's with their beautiful bodies, swimsuits became more curvaceous and fitting. Corset manufacturers who were dastically losing business due to changing fashions saw a gap in the market, with making swimsuits to hide a woman's faults, with stretch tummy control panels to hold in the stomach, padded cone shaped bra cups and boning to give bust support. A wide range of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched nylon were popular fabrics. Zips were used in the centre back of swimsuits to create a corset like appearance.Thankfully Marks and Spencer have taken over this role so it's ok if you have another biscuit, or two or three.

Hair was really important to a fifties woman and they didn't want to get their hair wet whilst swimming. Lavish bathing caps covered in flowers, petals and rubber spikes became essential beach accessories. Just like IPods and plenty of Pringles are these days.
The 60's surfing, surf music, and beach party movies were very popular, so everyone wanted to recreat the looks they saw on screen. Bikinis became a lot more popular and the belly button was exposed for the first time. By the late sixties swimsuits had revealing side mesh net panels or cut out midriffs, filled in with see through plastic rings.
 Fabrics were mainly Nylon or Lycra, so zips were no longer needed and they were able to easily stretch and be pulled on like a pair of knickers. No one wants to spend half an hour jumping up and down trying to squeeze into a bikini do they.
The 1970's enjoyed a revolution in swimwear and it was all about showing your assests off and being uber sexy. Fashion designers bought in the string bikini with bottoms just fitting on the hips. Women wearing string bikinis were shown in popular magazines, such as Sports Illustrated making them even more popular due to the sexual revolution of the late 60's. Sheer swimsuits were introduced, no hiding those extra Custard Creams now ladies.
In the 1980s, the thong bikini was introduced mainly due to Playboy bunnies. Fashion designers claimed the origin of the thong bikini to be from the traditional clothing of Amazonian tribal groups in Brazil. With supermodels like the beautiful Christie Brinkley appearing everywhere, the athletic build became popular.

Bandeau tops were also worn with Racer and T backs being worn a lot, with shoulders and backs being the focus. A low cut bodice was worn a lot and due to Pamela Anderson running along the Baywatch beach with her uhm assets in a sexy red swimsuit, they got revitalised with the use of neoprene. Gone were the days of your Grandma doing knit one pearl two to make you a woollen swimsuit.

In the 1990s the one piece stayed popular with high leg lines and zipped fronts. There were lots of criss-cross halter necks and small string tops showing off cleavage, this meant that boob jobs became pretty popular in this decade. There were lots of stripes, prints and bold colours and very high V-cut bottoms were introduced, there was no hiding from the dreaded bikini wax now, sorry ladies.

2000s & Now
The last decade and the present day is all about what suits your body shape with so many styles available. The one piece that is popular is not a normal swimming costume, but basically a bikini with a bit of material in the middle joining them. There are also a lot of asymmetrical costumes around with cut outs and sexy shapes. There are so many different styles of bikinis around, however the harsh V-cut bottoms of the 90s have disappeared and have turned into a lot softer V.

Ladies there are so many options out there now for us to wear at the beach so there is no need to go out and by a burkini, even if you do have a huge weakness of Ben and Jerry's. You can get lots of body flattering pull everything in swimwear,so you can channel your inner Heidi Klum.

Thanks to everyone for reading this post and I hope you've enjoyed it. If would like to read about gorgeous clothes and shoes, vintage makeup and nails, retro cars, old fashioned movies and more of my ramblings then please pop over to my blog here. I've done a post about how getting the look so if you want to look like a vintage vixen in your swimwear then please check it out. I hope you all have a great summer in your bikinis tanning, but try not to get sun tan cream in your hair like I do, it makes a terrible mess.

Second Hand Rose

This lovely lovely post was written by a lovely lovely girly! Throughout my time blogging, I've been privileged to make some amazing friends, and Second Hand Rose is definitely one of them. She's such a gorgeous person inside and out, whilst I was in hospital she sent me tweets that really helped me get through it- and that was amazing.
Her blog is incredible, no joke. I feel like I learn something from her after every post, her passion for everything vintage is contageous, from guys to fashion, to icons to kitting- she can write a great blog about it. Go check out her blog, it's one of a kind! :)


  1. This is a great post, I adore the 1950's style costumes they look so classy and chic!

    The high leg lines from the 90's makes me giggle! The tan lines created must have look hilarious :)



  2. A Brilliant and informative post. Thank you!

  3. What an amazing article!! I totally reposted this on my blog!

  4. Hey girls Would you say that in the 2000s there is a greater variation and diversity in swimwear than in any other decade? It seems to me that reading the article that in actual fact in the 60s 70s 80s it was about following a fashion style, but as we get to the 2000s it is more about what suits your body type as aposed to strictly all trying to fit the "fashion style" Ladies have a greater choice in what fits there body types as aposed to the body types trying to fit a style. Swimwear now goes beyond style into something much better? Which is quite cool.