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Va va voom! Vintage Swimwear

June 24, 2011

Vintage swimsuit from 'What Katy Did'

Fashionistas everywhere are taking part in the revival of everything vintage. Chic women of every age are showing off styles from the glamorous days of the past.  Stylish and chic women are choosing vintage or retro styles to express their unique fashion sense in an affordable way. Vintage swimsuits flatter a variety of body types and are perfect for swimming, lying about by the pool and for having fun.

Vintage Jantzen Logo

In the early 20th century, people didn’t go swimming – they went bathing – which literally meant paddling up to the knees and no more – heaven forbid. In the Edwardian days – bathing was a very segregated affair, with men and women bathing apart. The swimsuit had yet to be invented with ladies wearing dresses essentially, hoisted to the knee. Men and women wore bathing shoes. – and not many people even knew how to swim. One name above all stands out in the development of glamour in women’s swimwear – Jantzen.

Jantzen Catalogue: Designs by Givenchy 1957

The Jantzen brand was born in 1916 in the heart of Portland, Oregon, USA and originated fresh new designs and the label’s ‘diving girl’ logo soon became a world-renowned brand. The logo became so popular that stickers were appearing in car windows – such was the impact of the image. Their suits revealed shoulders and thighs and encouraged the new fad of getting a tan. Glamour and swimming went hand in hand. New elastane, lastex  and in the 1930s and 1940s – the introduction of nylon – meant that swimsuits could be figure hugging and flattering to the female silhouette.After the war Lycra helped suits to become even more figure hugging.

in 'The Hurricane'

As the 1930’s came in, slimline swimwear and new two piece belted sailor inspired suits became increasingly popular. The inception of the Nautical theme in swimwear is one that is popular to this day, Sarongs were also immensely fashionable – A  vivid picture of sarong clad Dorothy Lamour in the 1937 film Hurricane comes to mind. She popularised the style and gained an almost fanatical fashion following and a multitude of film going fans.A sarong, also known as a pareo, is a free-fitting garment that, when popularized in the West, was worn by women primarily with a swimsuit when bathing. When they became popular in the mid-1930s they suggested an exotic, friendly allure.

With time, skimpier designs became more commonplace and two pieces began to appear more often. Two piece outfits were many and varied, but generally  covered the belly button – as this was for a long time was not considered worth revealing.

As the 1950s came in the playsuit – which incorporated removable skirts – was the new rage at the beach. From the 1920’s fashion witnessed a very dynamic and seismic shift in swimwear fashion trends. Vintage Swimwear haute couture really hit the sandy beaches from the 1930s onwards, with designer sunglasses, parasols, beach towels, robes, hats – you name it.

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