Roanoke, VA, USA

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1950s Beach Beauty

Updated: Aug 17, 2019



Oh, if only I could look so glamorous in a bathing suit! This tiny, 3 inch h x 2 inch w snapshot of a bathing beauty caught my eye at an antique store in Maine, and while it has nothing written on the reverse side, there are very clear indicators of its time frame and even location!


But first, let's have a quick photo history of women's bathing suits:



(1) 1869, (2) 1883, (3) 1900, (4) 1905, (5) 1908, (6) 1912, (7) 1920, (8) 1922, (9) 1930s, (10) 1940s


I don't think our bathing beauty here had any plans of getting in the water, and was more concerned with her appearance than staying cool. Her head scarf prevented fly away and unruly hair, and the cat eye sunglasses were an extremely popular choice of the time. She's even wearing a hint of lipstick!


Her bathing suit points directly to a popular 1950s style, with the sweetheart neckline that almost all 1950s bathing suits employed. While bikini's and high waisted 2 piece bathing suits became popular during the 1940s, one piece bathing were the modest and fashionable choice for most women.





They style suit she's wearing is similar to a bubble swimsuit, but has elements of the babydoll suit. A bubble suit emphasized the hips, and can be seen in the woman in the pink bathing suit at the far right of the left image, and in the far right image with the two exterior girls. A babydoll suit employed shorts, and looked more like a romper than a bathing suit (seen in the center below).



Our beauty's bathing suit is a mix between the two - the elastic and extra fabric at the thighs points more toward the bubble suit; however, the lack of bubbly-ness gives it more of a babydoll look. Additionally, her suit has pockets!




Whether the pockets were functional or not like in the ad above, I'm unsure, but the bubbly-ness of the hips in her suit could attribute to the functionality of the pockets. The cut out in the sweetheart neckline is also similar to the bathing suit in the ad above, as well.



When I purchased this photo, I saw the lifeguard stand in the background and immediately got excited: it's a way to identify the location, if the writing is clear enough.





No luck, though. But, I did identify that this is a New Jersey style lifeguard stand, and more closely related to an Atlantic City Beach stand versus an Ocean City stand. The life preserver and the base of the stand are the keys to this distinction.

Two modern day beach lifeguard stands - Left is Ocean City, New Jersey, while the right is Atlantic City, New Jersey.


As the summer temperatures warm up, I only wish I could all be as fashionable as our friend at the beach!


As a bonus, here's footage from the ocean front at Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the turn of the 20th century!

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

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