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Women’s Bathing Suits – the Fab 50’s & Swinging 60’s

Although one-piece women’s bathing suits were still more popular, the 1950’s marked the rise of the two-piece swimsuit. Actresses like Marilyn Monroe helped to popularize the style and make it more mainstream.

Early two pieces

Two-piece suits didn’t show much more than a one-piece; the navel was still covered, and for years, was actually not allowed to be shown on screen. In 1952, French actress Brigitte Bardot marked one of the first times a bikini was worn in a movie.

French actress Brigitte Bardot in 1953.

Bikinis Become Popular

Bardot helped to popularize the style after wearing bikinis on several more occasions. It began to catch on in Europe with North America following years later.

Strapless women’s bathing suits were a popular style in the 50’s, whether it was on a one-piece or two-piece. The pinup look was in, with a princess cut neckline and ruching details to cleverly create the desired hourglass shape.

Bikinis Hit the Covers

The first ever Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover

It wasn’t until the 60’s that the bikini caught on in the U.S., influenced by it’s appearance in popular culture. In 1962, Playboy magazine showed a bikini on the cover for the first time, with Sports Illustrated following in 1964. This also marked the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

The bikini also made iconic appearances in popular movies of the time, from the James Bond “Dr. No” film in 1963 to “One Million Years BC” in 1966.

The rise of youth culture and the sexual revolution of the 60’s helped mark this period in women’s swimwear as one of liberation and changing norms.