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Vintage-Inspired Swimwear: 4 Retro Bathing Suits for this Season

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

By: Pippa

There’s no doubt that swimwear has evolved since the mid-1900s, mainly due to ever-developing fashions, lifestyle choices, cultural influences, and society. But the classic, ultra-flattering, vintage chic style is back for another summer.

When we think vintage swimwear, those classic icons Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly immediately spring to mind, with their classic glamour and timeless elegance. And it’s this classic style that so many modern women are now trying to recreate, complete with an up-to-date take on the 1950s Hollywood one-piece.

These retro swimsuits often featured a fitted skirt sitting on the hips, a high and nipped-in hourglass waist, and a strapless or halter neck. Polka dots and bold stripes were also popular in these kinds of swimsuits, as well as colour blocking (usually white) along with various trims like belts, bows, and buckles. More fitted and modest in comparison to the ever popular triangle bikini of more recent years, it’s this chic modesty which is making a comeback. Women want to stand out in the summer, but for style, class, and elegance, rather than for baring it all.

This swimsuit above is what inspired me to write this article. What Katie Did have got it spot on again, borrowing the style and silhouette from the 50s and 60s while using modern fabrics, styling, and construction techniques. I love the all-in-one colour blocking and let’s not forget the element of ease… the one-piece means you don’t have to think too much about what else to wear, it’s already all there for you!

With some subtler elements of vintage swimwear, this S/S 12 Camilla and Marc Resort one-piece swimsuit exaggerates colour blocking, while suggesting a high waist and sweet heart neckline.

Polka dots and stripes are commonly seen in vintage swimwear, and Michael Kors has successfully brought them back in a brilliant sunshine yellow swimsuit from his S/S 12 collection.

Finally, Mama Maria uses clever tailoring to create a nipped in waist and pointed bust — very much the desired silhouette of the mid-1900s. A Dutch swimwear company, Mama Maria, specialises in creating beautiful swimwear with a very vintage feel in nearly every kind of colour and pattern.

One last note, the vintage comeback is ideal for curvier girls, because those are the exact body types they were originally designed for. Remember, no one looks more fabulous than someone having fun, and in any one of these swimsuits, who wouldn’t be loving every minute?

What do you think of the vintage-style swimsuit look? Do you have any favourites?

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

8 Comments on this post

  1. Sara says:

    I’m loving how the one-piece is making a coming back! being a girl whose uncomfortable to show so much in public and only options are really bad monokinis, one pieces or the dreadful option of having to wear men’s bottom swimsuits i’m definitely looking foward to swim suit shopping in the upcoming months! Does anybody know who the woman in the first picture is by the way?

  2. tina says:

    The only thing missing is the classic fabrics. Polyamide/Lycra, about the only type you can get today, is a really bad fabric compared to the vintage thick polyester ones. Just buy a vintage suit and use it for another 50 years. The new copies will be gone after one summer.

  3. Donnet says:

    I love how these style bathing suits are coming back around. Call me an old-soul, but I feel like these styles and designs really flatter women shapes. Great post!

  4. Tricia says:

    Unique vintage has some awesome swimwear. I wish I did more swimming because vintage swimsuits are so much cuter than the modest ones today.

  5. I’ve always LOVED the vintage swim suit styles, however I can never find one for myself when swim suit season rolls around! Most of the ones I find are too expensive and I can’t afford them o.O

    I quite love the style and shape of the first swim suit, but the yellow polka dot one stole my heart :)

  6. Amaryllis says:

    Ah, I love the vintage style swimsuits, but all too often I find that my petite chest fails to fill the bodice. I have great hopes for the upcoming Kiss Me Deadly range though, and I was very taken with cute blue sailor pattern bikini’s from Fraulein Annie, on the Hepburn & Leigh website – with two different styles of top, one indicated as being more flattering for smaller chests, and the other as offering more support for larger chests. http://www.hepburnandleigh.co.uk/shop/brandproducts/FrauleinAnnie

  7. Leah says:

    Any idea on whether the Mama Maria suits have underwire? I adore them, but as a 34H I really can’t go underwireless. :(

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