The introduction of Lastex in 1931 created a new wave of vintage swimsuits designs, patterns and color.
Lastex is a yarn covered in fiber which made swimwear a lot lighter and comfortable, especially when wet, unlike wool which was really beautiful when dry, and became heavy and uncomfortable when wet. Lastex came in cotton or rayon and had a beautiful appeal to it that made it possible to transition from the neutral colored swimwear of the 20s to multicolored swimwear of the 30s. They started off making different colored 2 pieces, and then started inserting colorful shapes and patterns to them.
Prior to the 30s, the 20s saw a large level of restriction in the wearing of swimwear for ladies. Swimwear had length regulations for ladies which were meant to ensure that ladies wore suits that were not below a specific length. Ladies were fined, arrested and humiliated for not adhering to the rules. However, the 30s brought about much shorter suits without any regulations or restrictions.
Designers took the swimwear fashion a lot more seriously as swimming was taking a better leisurely appeal for families in the 20s and 30s, so designer Jean Patou invented a dying process for swimwear that would not fade easily. This introduced the multicolored swimwear, and later on more patterns, darts, gathers, and belt allowances were introduced into the swimwear.
New swimwear patterns brought the big names in swimwear fashion. Names like Janzen, whose logo was a red diver, came out of Oregon and Catalina and Cole who came out of California and B.V.D of Ohio. They adopted the use of Lastex and made swimwear with dynamic patterns and colors, thereby increasing patronage of swimwear designs.
The level of modesty in swimwear was largely dependent on the location. Ladies who lived in fashion-centered locations like New York and France were able to wear more revealing vintage swimsuits like the maillot.
Bathing suits of the 1930s
- The Maillot was a more revealing swimwear in the 30s. It had the small top piece which looked like a crop top and the bottom piece which was more like male shorts.
- The dress maker, like the name entails, it maintained the dress style of the 20s swimwears. It had less fitting, was a one piece with an a-line skirt to properly cover the body.
Up until the 1940s where the bikini was introduced by Louis Reard and it was still considered immodest by a number of prominent figures in fashion like Brigitte Bardot. The first person to properly model the bikini was a 19-year-old nude dancer. The 30s had a more modest two-piece which was seen in 1935 when actress Jane Wyman was spotted in a two-piece that had her torso in view, the top piece was cut low but still maintained the modesty of the 30s with no visible cleavage, while the bottom piece was a similar flowery patterned high waisted boy short cut really short around the thighs – very different from the girls plus size swimsuits these days.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.