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Vintage Bathing Suits from the 1920s to the 1940s

1920s Bathing Suits

 

The 1920s were known as the "roaring 20s". Women gained the right to vote in 1920, paving the way for a decade of economic prosperity, Jazz music and carefree living. Fashion in the 1920s began to evolve, as women’s rights were more predominant, “flapper” girl style came to light. The term flapper girl gives us an image of the elegance of Great Gatsby. Women with bobbed haircuts, pearl necklaces, skinny cigarettes and drop waist dresses dancing the night away to Jazz music, owning their femininity for the first time in history.

Interestingly, the flapper style didn’t quite translate to the beach. So what do you picture when you think of swimwear in the 1920s? Even though women’s rights were advancing, swimwear was still incredibly conservative. Beaches were patrolled by police, armed with measuring tape to ensure women weren’t showing more than six inches of skin between their knee and thigh… and if they did? A ticket for $10 or even jail! Swimwear silhouettes included one piece suits that resembled a dress and were made of wool. Eventually and thankfully, the fabric evolved to a different jersey-like fabric that was more conducive to swimming. The 1920s swim silhouettes also included a two-piece comprised of a long jersey style shirt and shorts.

We’ve definitely come a long way!

1940s Bathing Suits

 

Nothing exudes elegance quite like fashion in the 1940s, an era of Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn, two style icons we will forever admire. France was the beacon of fashion that influenced the world, but because of World War II, France was cut off from the United States in the early 40s, which resulted in a clothes rationing. Due to the clothes rationing, utility dresses became a fashion staple.

After the war ended, Christian Dior founded his fashion house and came out with his first collection the world would come to know as “The New Look”. These designs exuded femininity, celebrating the female form, featuring rounded shoulders, a cinched high waist and long skirts.

Swimwear was no different! The 40s was the era where swimwear became a little more feminine, a little tighter, and a little less modest. This of course was consistent with “The New Look”, which hugged the female form and accentuated the silhouette.  

The bikini was invented in 1946, and even though it showed skin at the mid-drift, it was still on the conservative side (never showing the navel). Bottoms were more form fitting than previous years, but looked more like a skirt, covering the entire backside. Tops were rarely strapless, although they did come with bra cups to enhance the bust for a more feminine appearance. One pieces were form fitting as well, but resembled a dress more than a bathing suit. Although swimwear in the 40s was conservative by today’s standards, it was ultra-feminine, hugging every curve and aiding to create an hour-glass shape. Ruching techniques were also used for a slimming effect and fun patterns were becoming more popular, such as polka dots and bright florals.

We can definitely see some key style elements of the 40s making a comeback in streetwear and swimwear today!

Luxury Bathing Suits Today


Looking at the 20s and 40s definitely shows how far women and fashion have come, especially how influenced we are now. Can you tell Amaiò designs are heavily influenced by fashion in these eras?

Here are some key fashion staples throughout the decades, and examples of how Amaiò has reinterpreted them, and integrated them into the luxury swimwear designs you see today.

Utility

The Nantes Top features gold plated utility style straps and the Nantes Bottoms feature a removable gold plated utility belt. This adds extra detail in design, and channels the early 40s WWII Utility period.

High Waisted 

Our Sabine Bottoms are one of the most high waisted bottoms we make, adorned with a light Eurojersey sash to cinch the waist, further accentuating an hour-glass shape as they did in the 40s.

Long Skirts

All Amaiò Skirts are high waisted and fall between the knee and the ankle. This length and style was a main staple for dresses and skirts in the 1940s. The Éponine Skirt especially channels the elegance and design of skirts in the 40s.

Ruching

The Renée Maillot is one of our most elegant Maillots and features ruching. Ruching is a technique used by gathering fabric to create detail in design and a slimming effect. This ruching technique was first used in the 1940s and was also used in swimwear in the 40s.

Bold Shoulders

All Amaiò Cardigans, especially the Gigi Cardigan, feature a slightly bold shoulder. This is a testament to Dior's "The New Look" bold shoulder style, which is prevalent in styles we see today and we hope is here to stay!

Belted Waist

Many of our Bottoms and Maillots come with a belted waist, creating a cinching effect for an hour glass silhouette so many woman strive for. Our Nathalie Maillot is a prime example of a belt used to cinch the waist for an ultra feminine look.

Drop Waist

The drop waist was a staple for dresses in the 20s and we love this style! We channeled our inner flapper girl and mixed it with a dash of elegance to create the Lauret Dress.

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