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Women's Cole of California two piece swimsuit bottom

Date: 1950s
310 x 420 mm, 0.2 lb. (0.1 kg)
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00039516

User Terms

    Made by the famous American company Cole of California the high waisted shorts and yellow checked cotton fabric of this two piece design followed women's fashions of the period. In 1950 Cole of California had signed film and swimming star Esther Williams to a merchandising-design contract that created and promoted the most popular and glamorous swimwear of its time.
    SignificanceThis two piece swimsuit is representative of 1950s beachwear fashions produced by Cole of California.
    HistoryThe two piece swimsuit, made famous by starlets such as Ava Gardner, emerged during the war time years of the 1940s. Its modest design was less about a motivation to shock, than fabric saving necessity. The two piece of this period usually covered the navel, unlike the more daring bikini that was to gain widespread popularity in the 1960s.

    The bikini marked a reaction to the constraints of heavily structured swimsuits popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It represented freedom, with the body exposed rather than dominated by the swimsuit. The release of beach movies such as 'Gidget' and 'How to Stuff a Wild Bikini' during this period also played their part in inspiring a following.

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