Everyone can look good in a bathing suit, you just have to know what you want to emphasise and what not to draw attention to. Thinking about your body shape is a good start towards finding your dream bathing suit.

And to give you a little guidance, whether you have short legs, wide hips, a small bust, a larger bust, a long torso, a short torso, a thick waistline, or a bit of a tummy, we have vintage swimwear expert Pam from Glamoursurf on hand to offer her fantastic tips for the perfect suits to suit you.

Bathing suit styles across the decades

Swimwear in the Forties offers clever details such as cutouts and usually has no bust padding. Wartime restrictions on minimum fabric usage caused designers to employ cutouts and keyholes to meet the requirements.

Satin stretch fabrics with Lastex were popular. The high waist two-piece swimsuit typical of this decade covered the navel area but left a bare midriff.

Many of the swimsuits from the Fifties were made in the hourglass shape to form and mould the body with construction details and fabric similar to undergarments which help to emphasise assets and camouflage flaws.

Some fabrics from this era have girdle-like stretch capabilities. The bust is usually padded or shaped with support mechanisms. Zippers were frequently used to cinch the suit at the back. Modesty panels and boy-cut leg openings were common.

Swimsuits from the Sixties still offered support devices, adjustable shoulder straps, and the two piece bathing suit regained popularity with the midriff being the focus. The bikini was launched into mainstream acceptance with the help of movie stars and the media. Fabrics with wild colours and bold patterns were very popular.

In the Seventies the thong was introduced. The leg openings reached higher on the hips and spandex/nylon combinations were prevalent. String bikinis became popular, and swimsuits in general became smaller, skimpier, and more revealing.

The Eighties brought about the athletic body with shoulders and backs into focus. The one piece reemerged with low cut bodices, bandeau tops, racer backs, and T backs.


Do you have Wide Hips?

Look for boy shorts, skirted suits or dressmaker suits to camouflage the hip area or try a one piece that sits high on the thighs. This will lengthen the legs and draw the eye away from the hip area. Playsuits will also work to help minimize the hips.

Do you have Short Legs?

If you want to lengthen the look of short legs, look for a one or two piece that is cut high on the leg openings to help heighten the look of your leg. Many Eighties swimsuits are cut high on the hips.

Do you have a Small Bust?

Look for a top that lifts the bust. These usually come with straps that tie around the neck or go for that classic halter style. Deep V cut open front suits will also help pull the eye to the waistline.

Tops that offer a little padding will help in this area as well. Vintage Fifties to Seventies swimwear would most likely work best for ladies with a small bust.

Do you have a Large Bust?

Choose a suit with darker colours and large prints or a swimsuit that is made with a colour block having the darker colour on top.

A swimsuit with horizontal stripes, a deep V-neck or plunge neck will elongate your figure and lessen the fullness of the bust.

Halter neck styles work well, offering good support and enhancing your cleavage, also try choosing a suit with good support and wider straps.



Do you have a Long Torso?

Tankinis are perfect for you. Unlike a bikini, the longer top disguises the fact that you are long and lean.

If tankinis aren’t to your liking, lookfor a swimsuit that sits high on the leg. This will emphasise their length instead of your torso.

Or a high waisted vintage two-piece suit might be right for you. Some vintage Fifties swimsuits by Rose Marie Reid were made for the taller longer torso girl. Look for ones labeled ‘Magic Lengths’.

Do you have a Thick Waistline?

Tankinis will work well for you, or look for one piece swimsuits that are a solid dark colour. Patterns running on an angle can give the illusion of a narrow waist, or you could go for sarong style suits whch will help accentuate the waistline and will cinch you in neatly.

Do you have a Short Torso?

One piece swimsuits with a high cut neckline will stretch you out and make you look just like a model! Or look for a two piece that sits low on your hips.

Do you have a Tummy?

Look for suits that offer a stylish cover-up for the tummy area. You might also like to look for suits that have built-in tummy support in the lining or in the fibre itself. Many vintage Fifties suits have a modesty panel, a straight cut panel that extends across the front of the tummy and offers girdle like support.

All these fantastic suits and more can be found at GlamourSurf.com


6 Responses

  1. Retro Swimwear

    My name is Pamela Levenson, I developed a Vintage inspired Retro Swimwear line called Popina. I think your readers would appreciate my line.

  2. My Sister Pat

    My Sister Pat designer label proudly was credited by the Sunday Herald Sun Jan 17 2010 with the following
    comment “My Sister Pat creates the most authentically 1950’s fashioned swimwear in Australia”

    My Sister Pat offers all discerning females Timeless Elegance, in cool ,comfortable, flattering, cotton complimented with “traditional rubber shirring” Visit our website http://www.mysisterpat.com.au or drop us a line by email to info@mysisterpat.com.au to see what is in stock as dupicates are rare as we focus on not mass producing.

  3. My Sister Pat

    Excitingly we have been created with the Sunday Herald Sun stating in a write
    My Sister Pat creating the most authentically fashioned 1950’s swimwear in Australia

  4. Kate

    Does anyone know where I can buy a moderately priced 50s style swimsuit? There are some lovely ones online but all in excess of £60, which is a lot for a student!