Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fashionable History: Swim Wear By Decade- 1940's

1940s SwimwearWith fabric shortages during wartime in the 1940's, the US Government issued the L-85 order which makes smaller swimsuits patriotic. Cutouts in the midriff and bikinis become very glamorous and by the end of the decade appear on every beach. Hollywood gets in on the act by ensuring that their pin-ups, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, and Betty Grable to name a few, expose their bellies. With two pieces, more options and combinations are available. The basic top styles introduced are the halter, the shelf bra, and the bandeau. For the bottoms which are always high waisted and cover the belly button and low on the hips, the choices are; the skirted panty, shorts, the sheath, and the sarong. These style lines can also be seen in the one pieces as well. The girls above showcase many of these styles.
1940s swimwear A one piece with halter top and shorts. I love her sunglasses.

1940s swimwear The skirted bottom.

1940s swimwear A ruffled skirted panty and halter top. This photo is from the Met Museum archive. Truly lovely.

1940s swimwear The classic 1940's look. Shelf bra halter and the sheath bottom.
Polka dots! Rolled hair!

This summer my Fashionable History segments are about swim wear by decade. Next week is the 1950's!


hannah, heart city said...

gosh i love the 40s. great post!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea what kind of winter boots women wore in the 40's? I'm trying to find out some info but it seems to be pretty scarce!
cheers, great blog!

Unknown said...

Isn't history funny? Shortage of fabric leading to bikinis? Thank God for that :) Love your post! I have a blog on high waist bikinis, I just adore vintage style. Come check it out at,