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Vintage Swimsuit Styles

May 26, 2019

woman wearing vintage swimsuit

One often-overlooked aspect of vintage fashion is swimwear! Just in time for the summer, we’re here to explain to you how swimsuits have changed from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, and what you can look for if you want a vintage swimsuit that represents your favorite decade of fashion.

1950’s Suits

vintage 1950s Catalina Swimwear Ad Women wearing swimsuits

Swimsuits styled from the 1950’s usually had extra fabric near the bottom that simulated a skirt. The skirt could be form-fitting, or loose and ruffled. If the swimsuit was a bikini, the bottoms would be quite high-waisted, covering as far as up to the bellybutton! The bottoms would also most likely be styled as shorts, rather than briefs. Navy, red, and polka dots were popular trends for swimsuits of this decade, along with bows or a more sailor-type look!

1960’s Suits

women wearing vintage swimsuits in the 1960s

While bikinis were around in the 50’s, they became much more popular during the 60’s. This decade also introduced bright, neon colors and took notes from the mod movement of this time. The skirt and shorts look slowly faded and was replaced with more cheeky bottoms but still started around the waistline. Pastel pinks, mustard yellows, and white-on-black were popular color choices, along with stripes!

1970’s Suits

women wearing vintage 1970s swimsuits

This is the decade where we began to see traces of what we’ve come to know bikinis and swimsuits as today. The tops became a bit lower, starting at the breastbone and swooping upwards, rather than modestly covering the entire cleavage. Towards the end of the decade, one-pieces became a little more revealing as well, offering unique cut-outs along the sides of the suits. Flowers, paisley, and geometric shapes dominated the beach during the 70’s, and no color was out of the question.

1980’s Suits

women wearing 1980s swimsuits

The cut-out trend continued as one-pieces became more and more strappy, particularly in the back. Animal prints were hot during this decade, and swimwear was no exception. High-waisted bottoms made a comeback during this time but were much more revealing, introducing what is called a “v-cut” that showed a lot more thigh. Neon colors dominated the swimwear palette, and you couldn’t walk very far on the beach without seeing thin shoulder straps or bikinis with adornments on them.  

What decade of swimwear fashion is your favorite? Do you own a vintage fashion swimsuit? Let us know in the comments below!





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