Types of Vintage Men's Swimsuits

Written by rhonda mcdowell
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Types of Vintage Men's Swimsuits
In the early 1900s, swimsuits were prone to falling down due to their heavy weight. (Boy With Orange Swim Goggles and Swim Fins image by Wimbledon from Fotolia.com)

Although men's swimwear doesn't have as many milestones as women's swimwear, trunks and swimsuits are still notably different now than during the period from the 1920s to the 1970s. OriginalVintage.com characterises vintage men's swimsuits as being colourful and laidback. Other notable traits of vintage swimwear for men are classic lines and a more sedate appearance.

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Two Piece Ensembles

Two-piece vintage swimsuits include shorts and a top. According to SwimsuitStyle.com, these suits trace their history back to the early decades of the twentieth century, around the 1900s to the early 1920s. The top may or may not have sleeves, and the trunk usually falls on or above the knee. These swimsuits came in dark plain colours. Some are striped and are mostly shapeless.

Along with the two-piece swimsuits, wool was also the most popular fabric used in swimwear. Vintage swimsuits made of wool were then said to be the ideal fabric. However, the heaviness of the material caused the swimsuits to weigh up to nine pounds.

One-piece Whole Suits

Based on the vintage photos collected by David Claudon, one can see that one-piece swimming costumes for men were popular in the 1920s. Although two-piece swimwear was still popular, more people became open to wearing tighter and more fitted one-piece suits.

Vintage suits from the 1920s were mostly made of latex. This is a stretchy textile which is lighter and more fitted to the body compared to wool. And although this caused people to worry about swimsuits becoming too revealing, it was more comfortable.

Topless Suits

Popularly called trunks, vintage suits without the top trace back their history from the 1930s. Such pieces were high-waisted and came in dark colours. It was during this time that jockey swimming costumes were introduced and men were able to break away from one-piece swimsuits completely. This created a stir and the topic "no shirt" became a hit in magazines.

According to DuPont, a company offering a wide range of products and services, they are the first company to introduce the first completely synthetic fibre, nylon, in 1938. (Reference 4) Vintage trunks are made from this fabric, in plain colours and tight designs. Not until the 1950s did trunks get lower in the waist and higher at the legs. (Reference 5)

According to InternationalJunk.com, vintage trunks from the 1960s to 1970s are colourful and come in many different prints and styles. Square cut boxers also became popular, as well as board shorts. These vintage swimsuits usually have drawstring elastic waistbands and cotton lining. (See Resources.)

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