Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Resort Fashions - Swimsuit Styles from 1915 to 1945

It's resort fashion month, and in this retrospective, courtesy of Life Magazine from 1945, I begin a series of posts that cover 30 years of swimsuit style, from 1915 to 1945.

I'll start with some history: In 1905 a lady's bathing suit was made of 10 yards of material. In 1945, it is made from one yard. Between these two statistics and two dates lie a social revolution and an annually expanding area of bare flesh.

Prime mover of the revolution was Annette Kellerman, the first famous woman swimmer. In 1910, Miss Kellerman became more famous by discarding the ruffles and heavy corset that went with bathing dresses and appearing unabashed in a tight, one-piece suit. This set a pattern for the Mack Sennett girls and the Atlantic City bathing beauties, who found that scanty suits could bring fame and fortune.

In 1926 Gertrude Ederle wore only brassiere and shorts to swim the English Channel. Her brief costume was chosen for athletic reasons but it gave a great many nonathletic women an idea. Women in the US took up the cult of sun bathing. More bodily area exposed and tanned each summer was acclaimed as the secret of good health.

Since 1930, US bathing suit manufacturers have made money by cutting something more off their suits each year. Neither sermons nor ordinances nor arrests have slowed the steady progress from bloomers to one-piece suit to bra and "diaper pants".



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