11/06/2018 12:29 SAST | Updated 11/06/2018 14:07 SAST

These Old-Hollywood Bombshells Have All The Vintage Swimwear Inspiration You Need

We’ve already taken notes.

The women of Old Hollywood somehow managed to look glamorous wherever they were, including the beach. And it's not their hair and makeup we're talking about ― though both were always impeccably done ― it's their swimsuits.

For the women of cinema's golden age, one-piece swimsuits were extremely popular. These usually featured flattering sweetheart necklines, ruching throughout the body and low-cut leg openings, and sometimes came in fun prints. Around the 1940s, stars like Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner wore two-pieces, with high-waisted, full-coverage bottoms and structured halter tops. (The bikini as we know it ― low-rise bottoms with higher-cut leg openings and a more bra-like top ― was introduced to the U.S. in 1946, Slate notes.)

There's something about vintage swimsuits that just screams "bombshell." Sure, they provided more coverage than the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie bikinis favored by Instagram "it" girls and models these days, but they're no less sexy.

Unsurprisingly, considering everything old becomes new again, vintage swimsuits have clearly inspired a number of current retailers and brands, most notably ModCloth and Lisa Marie Fernandez.

Look to these Old Hollywood stars for all the swimwear inspiration you need. And always remember: The only thing you need to have a "bikini body" is a bikini, or any swimsuit, and a body.

  • Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe
    George Rinhart via Getty Images
    Enjoying the waves at the beach sometime in 1955.
  • Lucille Ball
    Lucille Ball
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Wearing a strapless swimsuit in "Best Foot Forward," circa 1943.
  • Barbara Stanwyck
    Barbara Stanwyck
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    Reclining on a diving board in 1945. 
  • Esther Williams
    Esther Williams
    NBC via Getty Images
    In a swimsuit during "The Esther Williams Aqua Special" in 1956.
  • Dorothy Dandridge
    Dorothy Dandridge
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Relaxing in the sunshine on the French Riviera in 1957.
  • Sophia Loren
    Sophia Loren
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    On a motor boat in the mid-1960s.
  • Bette Davis
    Bette Davis
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Posing for a photo on the beach in California in 1933.
  • Elizabeth Taylor
    Elizabeth Taylor
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    Wearing a one-piece leopard print swimsuit, circa 1955.
  • Elizabeth Taylor (again!)
    Elizabeth Taylor (again!)
    Sunset Boulevard via Getty Images
    On the set of the 1959 movie "Suddenly Last Summer." 
  • Grace Kelly
    Grace Kelly
    Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
    Among deckchairs and sunshades in the Cote d'Azur in 1955.
  • Lauren Bacall
    Lauren Bacall
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    On the set of the 1957 film "Designing Woman."
  • Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    In a strapless bathing suit and high heels, circa 1951.
  • Rita Moreno
    Rita Moreno
    Archive Photos via Getty Images
    Posing on a balcony in a striking orange swimsuit sometime in 1961.
  • Jean Harlow
    Jean Harlow
    General Photographic Agency via Getty Images
    Exercising with weighted pulleys on a patio, circa 1933.
  • Rita Hayworth
    Rita Hayworth
    Bob Landry via Getty Images
    Taking a bite out of a hamburger as she sunbathes in a white two-piece bathing suit, circa 1941.
  • Ava Gardner
    Ava Gardner
    Eric Carpenter via Getty Images
    Flashing a big grin while modeling a stylish swimsuit on the beach in 1943.
  • Ginger Rogers
    Ginger Rogers
    John Kobal Foundation via Getty Images
    Rubbing sun lotion onto her legs before sunbathing in 1936.
  • Natalie Wood
    Natalie Wood
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    Posing by a pool in a one-piece swimsuit, around 1965.
  • Norma Shearer
    Norma Shearer
    FPG via Getty Images
    By the swimming pool of her Hollywood home sometime in 1930.
  • Gina Lollobrigida
    Gina Lollobrigida
    Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
    Posing in a swimsuit in a recreational park in Rome in 1949.
  • Jean Simmons
    Jean Simmons
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    Wearing a print pattern swimsuit, circa 1960.
  • Veronica Lake
    Veronica Lake
    Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images
    Lounging by the pool in a red-and-white striped swimsuit, around 1945.
  • Anne Baxter
    Anne Baxter
    Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
    Wearing a strapless bikini top and matching bottoms, circa 1950s.
  • Alice White
    Alice White
    Margaret Chute via Getty Images
    Practicing her aquaplaning techniques, sometime in 1928.
  • Janet Leigh
    Janet Leigh
    Pictorial Parade via Getty Images
    Wearing a purple bathing suit in the 1950s.

Here are a few vintage-inspired swimsuit options you can get for yourself:

Photo gallery Vintage-Inspired Swimwear See Gallery
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