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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yes, the 1930s did have Two Piece Swimsuits

As early as the 1930s, two piece swimwear started to appear on the beaches and in fashion magazines. During the 1930s fitness also became fashionable; swimming, diving and exercising became requisite. Sun tanning also came into Vogue. Swimming costumes became smaller and more revealing than their predecessors, new forms of fabrics were being introduced which helped to slenderize the wearers look.

The bathing maillot was 'summer underwear', the basis of most summer beach and bathing combinations. Some costumes were still two overlapping pieces, but most popular were all in ones. The top of the costume was increasingly low cut at the front and lower still at the back.

During the mid 1930s, much effort was put into designing a costume which allowed maximum exposure to the sun and yet maximum comfort while swimming. Cross straps, which could be removed while sun bathing, became popular on low backed suits.

It was in 1935 that the first images of two piece swimwear were seen in fashion magazines. Some adopted this two piece style, but the bared midriff did not become a fashion essential until 1940.

Other forms of beach two-piece were high fashion in the 1930s. The versatile playsuit or beach suit had ousted beach pyjamas from their popularity. This could consist of loose trousers to wear over the maillot, or little skirts or shorts, gathered or wrapover for walks along the promenade or to the shops. All these beach and bathing coordinates came to be tailored like street clothes as 1940 approached.

Maxine Jennings in a two piece swimsuit featuring shorts with a zipper pocket, 1936.


Lyda Roberti's bold print sarong features matching sandals, 1934. Inspired by the Tahitian natives, this suit was called the "Pareo Tahitian."

Karen Morley, in a wool two-piece at Palos Verdes in 1936.


Joy Hodges in a bronze lastex with seaweed pattern print in blue, green, and white. 1938 at the El Mirador in Palm Springs.

Elizabeth Russell in one of her early publicity shots, models a daring cotton three-piece swimsuit, 1936.


Ann Rutherford in a wool two-piece for a Newport, California photo shoot, 1938.


Anita Page wears a suit made of bandannas tied together, 1930s.

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