1940’s Swimsuit and Bikini Styles with Pictures

1940’s  Swimsuits

1940's One Piece Swimsuit

Swimwear in the 1940s, like many other clothing items, was also losing its modesty. The ’40s was the era when the midriff was born, and it was shown in swimsuits as well as playsuits. Swimsuits were tight, unlike the suits of previous eras. One-piece swimsuits were still popular, but the new two-piece suit had plenty of fans too. The materials used to make swimsuits today were not invented yet, so suits were made from rayon jersey and rayon jersey blends with knit cotton linings. Swimwear featured stretchy control panels in the stomach, made from a new type of material called lastex, and bra cups in the bust to keep the figure looking good in the revealing (by ’40s standards of course) suits. Any color could be found on a swimsuit, but patriotic colors were popular. Floral patterns and polka dots were used too. Suits fastened with small metal zippers in the back.

1940's Swimsuits 1940's Fashion

1943 Swimsuits

1940's Swimsuit vintage

1947 Swimsuit

The one-piece swimsuit looked like a very tight, short dress. Cleavage still wasn’t shown in swimwear, so the V top was just high enough with thin straps. The bra top resembled a full-coverage bra. The suit then extended down into a tight ‘skirt’ that would cover the backside completely. The back of the suit would be even with the chest. The one-piece offered plenty of shaping, and sometimes had boning in the stomach area to offer additional support. A halter top was also popular – the suit would look the same except the straps tied at the neck. A new feature of some one-pieces bared a little bit of skin – a small triangle of fabric would be cut out underneath the bust to show some stomach.

1940's swimsuit two piece

1940's Bikini Swimsuit

The bikini was officially invented in 1946 and named after the Bikini Atoll in the south Pacific where the U.S. performed nuclear tests. This suit was tiny, and although it came a little bit high up, it more closely resembled the two-pieces we wear today. However, this wasn’t the style of two-piece that was usually worn in the ’40s – it was a little bit too revealing. Even before the bikini, women started wearing two-piece swimsuits that looked just like one-pieces cut in half. The top was a full-coverage bra top, either with two thin straps or a halter top. The bottom looked like a tight mini-skirt, starting from the waistline and covering the entire backside. Another popular style of skirt for the two-piece was a flared bottom of the same length. A top that started to gain in popularity was even more revealing – a bandeau top with strings attached to the center front that tied at the neck.

1940's two piece siwmsuit

1940's Swimsuit Model

www.glamoursurf.com – Vintage swimsuits, playclothes, and lingerie

Tip: It’s very hard to vintage swimwear. Vintage swimsuits are also uncomfortable, compared to modern fit and fabrics. Thankfully, most reproduction swimsuits are made of modern Lyrca material and refitted with modern construction techniques.

More 1940's Swimsuits


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You have just read a section from the 1940’s Style Guide: The Complete Illustrated Guide to 1940’s Fashion for Women. To read more pick up a copy of the book today!

1940's dress



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