Saturday, 23 November 2013

Vintage Swimwear

The wonderful Nicole Jenkins has been at it again; this time teaching a crowd of wistful summer sun worshippers about vintage swimwear. Nicole is the go to girl of Melbourne when it comes to all things vintage with her boutique. Circa Vintage Clothing in Mitchell House on Lonsdale Street.
Nicole is quick to point out that the focus of ladies swimwear has always been comfort, convenience and functionality and that these simple principles have been the driving force in major innovation in swimwear design and construction for the last 100 years.
And so, here is a brief history...

Swimwear was made of wool which  felt truly unbearable to wear, just thinking of it hot, heavy and heating up as soon as one left the water is awful. Backs were high as a lady did not tan and suits were difficult to wear and care for - the driving force in their innovation.
There is some use of cotton knit here but, used in a men's racing swimsuit. Not yet used for ladies.

Construction changes a lot in this era with cotton knit being used predominantly and suits made with bust cups built it. Backs are lower for tanning and it is also the era of the swimdress and beach trousers for ladies. During the later part of this decade rayon and rubber blend is used to make swimsuits, far more practical.

The beginning of the 'fit and flare' style, suits are made of rayon fail and rubber and often accompanied by beach jackets worn to and from the beach. This decade launched the bikini in the U.S. but they were not seen in Australia until the 1960s.

For the first time there are no buttons or zips required suggesting that stretch had come a long way and that fit had improved. The emphasis is on the figure and swimwear highlights the bust, waist and bum.

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