Retro 1960’s Swimwear, Beachwear and Surf Fashion
In the early part of the 1960’s swimwear was still pretty conservative, much like the decade earlier in the 1950’s. However fashion ideals began to change rather quickly in the mid 60’s with the introduction of the bikini and low cut bathing suit bottoms.
Until the 1960’s fashion was geared towards adults so inspiration was drawn from high fashion couture houses. Int he 1960’s things began to change as fashion designers began to focus on the tastes and style of the up and coming youth market.
Designers from around the world began to create clothing for the younger generation as they became more celebrated across Europe and the United States.
In the mid 1960’s the fashion world began to change with innovations coming from the growing cultural music scene. The “space age” look became all the rage with lots of metallic and crazy materials. The Mod movement also became popular and effected the beachwear market. Another popular change in the mid 60’s was the popularity of the bikini. Until this point, swimwear had tended to be more conservative. With the popularity of the upcoming youth culture, beach wear became less conservative.
French fashion historian Olivier Saillard said, “The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women.”
The bathing suits from the 50s and early 60s were cut straight across the top of the leg in the form of a modesty apron that hid the separate matching fabric crutch. By the mid 60’s the modesty apron style soon looked old fashioned.
Fabrics in swim wear also changes in the mid 60’s when they were mainly nylon or Lycra or a mix of the two materials. This added the all important factor that was stretch and pull on like a pair of underwear.
The front panel of the garment and crotch soon were both cut as one piece. Other variations include little pleated or flared over skirts with the idea of covering saddle bag thighs.
By the late sixties swimsuits had revealing side mesh net panels or cut out midriffs filled in with see through plastic rings. Right -1960’s swimsuit with plastic rings and mesh midriff.
The Bikini on the Silver Screen
The bikini made it’s debut appearance on the beaches of France all the way back in 1946 and hit the big screen in Manina, la fille sans voile (Manina, the Girl in the Bikini) in 1952, starring Brigitte Bardot. The film howver was not released in the United States until 1958, but was followed by Ursula Andress starring in Dr. No (1962) and Raquel Welch in One Million Years, B.C. (1966). These were the stars of that era, definitely sexy and definitely wearing bikinis my father would not have approved for my beachwear.
The bikini also was made famous in the popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in the mid 1960’s. The collage photos from left to right, top to bottom are from 1964–1967 and the larger one is from 1969.
1960’s Surf Culture
Learn More About 1980’s Swimwear
Learn More About 1970’s Swimwear
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