Bathing Suits – Vintage Style

“You’ve come a long way!” If you are referring to swim suits than that phrase is correct!

When I study pictures of swimming costumes from the mid-19th century, in the age of Victorian modesty, I can only thank my stars that I live today!  Really, whoever thought that wool was the right fabric for swim costumes? Plus, ladies swam in stockings, shoes, bloomers, a dress-like top and a hat.


By the early 20th century the swimsuit finally began to change.  However, it was still made out of wool! By the 1920’s, people were wearing much smaller showing their arms and legs.

By the 1930’s, one piece suits look very similar to what is being worn during current times and the wool has finally disappeared! Hollywood was very influential in the design and appeal of the modern swim suit just as it was with everyday fashions.

In 1946, the bikini was “reinvented” by two Frenchmen, Louis Reard & Jacques Heim. While a few stars may have worn the bikini, it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that the style became extremely popular.


During the 50’s and 60’s the bathing suit continued to evolve using cotton, polyesters, nylon, and finally nylon spandex. Zippers, smocking, pleats, and elastic were all used in the construction of early bathing suits until advances in the fabric made them obsolete. The one-piece suit gave way to the two-piece and then the bikini.


Today’s bathing suits are stretchy, comfortable, able to move with your body, dry quickly, and come in a variety of great colors. We have come a long way!

Barb Byler