The 1940s was the era when the midriff was born, and it was shown in swimsuits as well as playsuits. 1940s swimsuits were tight, unlike the suits of previous era. One-piece swimsuits were still popular, but the new two-piece suit had plenty of fans too.
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The bikini was officially invented in 1946 and named after the Bikini Atoll in the south Pacific where the U.S. performed nuclear tests. This suit was tiny, revealing the belly button and buttox. Most public beaches banned the use of this new tiny swimsuit till the ’50s. However, this wasn’t the style of two-piece that was usually worn in the ’40s — it was a little bit too revealing.
Before the bikini, women started wearing two-piece swimsuits that looked just like one-piece bathing suits cut in half. The top was a full-coverage bra top, either with two thin straps or a halter top. The bottom looked like a tight mini-skirt, starting from the waistline and covering the entire backside. Another popular style of skirt for the two-piece was a flared skirt bottom of the same length.
By the late 1940s, one and two-piece swimsuits were losing even more modesty. The strapless two piece was especially popular to those brave enough to wear them. Needless to say swimsuits of this period were hardly used for vigorous swimming. A lazy day at the beach or pool was their best use.
Take a look at these found vintage photos from Steven Martin to see what swimsuits styles looked like in the 1940s.