Cut-Out Swimsuit

AKA: cutout swimsuit

How to say it:  kuht-out  swim-soot

Traditional Features: Cut-Out Swimsuit

  • one-piece swimsuit with cut-out sections of varying sizes
  • cut-out sections generally located on the sides or front of the swimsuit
  • cut-out sections can be nude, or covered with mesh or lace

21st Century Cut-out Swimsuits

Cut-out swimsuits are still a massive trend in 2014 and designers are constantly pushing the limits of fabric to create new, interesting ways to reinvent the cut-out look. From thin strips of fabric crisscrossing the body, to fuller coverage with small, peekaboo holes, there is a huge variation of shapes in cut-out swimsuits, making the style a perfect option for those ladies who don’t feel comfortable in a bikini, but don’t want to be fully covered either.

Agent Provocateur ASOS

Agent Provocateur, ASOS

Mara Hoffman Michael Kors

Mara Hoffman, Michael Kors

Origins…

…of the style: Despite its popularity in modern swimwear, there isn’t a lot of information available regarding the history of the cut-out swimsuit.

In the early 20th century women’s bathing costumes resembled a short, woollen dress rather than the tight-fitting lycra of the 21st century. The introduction of nylon in the mid 1930s saw the creation of tighter fitting swimsuits that hugged the body, however these new swimsuits were still quite demure by modern standards. Towards the middle of the decade these modest styles took on a sexier undertone as the increased desire for a suntan (apparently made fashionable by Coco Chanel) saw exposed backs and shorter legs become common in women’s swimwear.

In 1935, possibly spurred on by the desire to expose more skin to the sun, designer Claire McCardell removed the side panels from a one-piece suit and the cut-out style was born.

The cut-out swimsuit seems to have been popular throughout the 30s, but was eclipsed by the introduction of the bikini in the 1940s and does not surface again as a recognisable trend until the 1960s. The fashion trends of the 60s lent themselves perfectly to cut-out styles as designers found new and interesting ways to hide and display the female body in swimwear, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was considered decent.

The cut-out swimsuit fell out of popularity after the 60s, once again eclipsed by the bikini for the rest of the 20th century. But the style never really disappeared from fashion, it merely lurked on the edges waiting for its return to the spotlight. This return occurred in the second decade of the 21st century. Cut-out swimwear became a massive trend around 2012 and has remained so throughout the following summer seasons with designers reinterpreting cut-out styles of the past for the modern market.

For the modern woman who doesn’t want to wear a bikini, but also doesn’t want the full coverage of a one-piece, the cut-out swimsuit offers a happy medium, and it is this compromise that will ensure the style’s place in swimwear for years to come.

…of the name: The swimsuit has pieces cut out from the side panels or front, hence the name.

I had to hunt for historical information on the Cut-Out Swimsuit – it was mostly hidden amongst general swimwear history but what I could find was here, here, here and in the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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