The Bikini

The movement towards minimalism occurred during the war. Cutting back was a means of supporting the troops in fighting the war.This created a number of clothing items which were body dominant, or made the shape of the body the key feature. What I’m going to pause and tell you about here is no exception.

An example of bot minimalism and body dominance can be found in the creation of what we today call, The Bikini.

Two-piece bathing suits had been made prior to this movement in minimalism, but they showed very little skin — and the aesthetic of this topic was that it was to be worn without showing the belly button.
Days after the American tested the atom bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall islands,  a two-piece bathing suit that exposed the belly button, created by Heim, made its debut.

Less than two weeks later, Lois Reard would debut what we’d call a string bikini, 25 years before its time.

This had several affects…
First Heim’s more-modest bathing suit caught on… and was named the bikini because of the bomb testing location. It became normal to wear a bathing suit, with your belly button showing.
Next, Read’s bikini, and others created in a similar fashion, were banned from most public beaches for several years.
And from these two we learn that while non-conformity and the desire to be “different” is always moving fashion forward, ultimately there are limits which society decides must not be crossed.  Both of the designs played with form, line, and color — but one used less fabric. Illustrating, in its ban, that at this time individuality in bathing suits was only permitted to go so far.

"L'Atom," later named the bikini

“L’Atom,” later named the bikini

The later banned "Bikini"

The later banned “Bikini”


An Introduction to this Blog

I’ve long loved vintage. There is something about the stories seeped in clothing, jewelry, shoes that have stood the test of time to inspire new fashions and styles…  and to be re-worn by another generation altogether.

Forties Fashions are among some of the most iconic, most unique.  On the pages of this blog, I’m going to explore some of the trends, the historical context behind those trends, as an evaluation of dress.

A quick guide to my blog:
–On this main page, you’ll see various fun facts from clothing throughout the forties — with a culture context behind it.
–There are links at the top of the page, to other pages within this same blog… these will cover years or events in fashions from the forties.

Nylon and Rayon Stockings

With war, came a “higher” need for nylon and rayon — making the materials for pantyhose scarce. As supplies began to dwindle, rations began to go unfilled, and many young women took to going bare-legged in the summer months. Climates, such as Australia (one layer, or subtropical, according to Siple’s clothing zones) allowed for sun-tanning to improve the color of white legs. Climates such as Britain, a three layer climate zone, had limited possibility for suntanning. The result?     ~Dying/painting legs took place. With walnut juice, tea, iodine, brown shoe polish.
~Some women used eyeliner to draw lines up the backs of their legs to resemble stocking seams.
Soon commercial leg paints appeared on the market — adding to the variety of body modifications that women used to change the color of their legs.


[The Skinny]
Cultural Context
Who? Women from adolescent age on would wear nylons, as the shortages became problematic, adolescent to young women would go barelegged during summer months.
What? Pantyhose were made out of nylon or rayon, with a seam up the back of the leg.
OR dyed/painted legs, often with a line drawn up the back to add to the effect.
Where? Shortages of nylon and rayon affected every country in anyway connected to the war. The more connected, the shorter the supply.
When? As early as 1940, 1941 rationing of pantyhose in Europe became so extreme that drastic action was taken by women — dying their legs instead. America was right behind them in timing, with companies creating products for consumers in Europe… and then American companies doing the same.

Pantyhose, made out of nylon or rayon, is a body supplementation. It’s an ectomorphic somatotype (according to sheldon’s somatotypes.) It’s a tight fitting garment, meant to change the color of ones’ legs and add an element of elegance through a change in the texture. They have a seam up the back of the legs.
The replacement for pantyhose, paints and stains, were a body modification. They literally changed the color of the skin for a period of time.