One-Shoulder Swimsuit

AKA: asymmetric swimsuit

How to say it:  wuhn  shohl-der

Traditional Features: 

  • one or two-piece swimsuit that has only one strap over the shoulder

21st Century One-Shoulder Swimsuits

21st century women still love the one-shoulder swimsuit and there are plenty of asymmetric options on the market to meet this need. One-piece or two, thin strap or thick, designers are constantly coming up with new was to interpret the one-shoulder look, keeping the style fresh and new seasons after season.

Clover Canyon J.Crew

Clover Canyon, J.Crew

Lauren Ralph Lauren Michael Kors Collection

LAUREN Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors Collection

Origins…

…of the style: Like so many other swimsuit styles, the first instance of the one-shoulder swimsuit has not made it into the history books and I was forced to resort to image searches to see how far back the look goes.

From what I could find out, the one-shoulder neckline appeared in fashion in the 1930s and began to infiltrate the swimwear market in the 1940s but didn’t really become popular until the 1950s – this makes sense, as it was around this time that public decency standards were beginning to relax and women were showing more skin on the beach.

The one-shoulder swimsuit is a surprisingly versatile style, and over the decades this versatility has allowed designers to reinvent the look each season, ensuring the survival of the style through the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st.

There are many, many styles of one-shoulder swimsuits on the modern swimwear market. While the asymmetric look seems to favour a one-piece suit, there are a large selection of one-shoulder bikinis as well and it seems unlikely that women will tire of this look anytime soon.

…of the name: It is called a one-shoulder swimsuit because the neckline of the swimsuit covers only one of the wearer’s shoulders.

Once again, there isn’t really any information about the history of the One-Shoulder Swimsuit out there, but an online image search for “Vintage one-shoulder swimsuits” will bring up examples from the 40s onwards, or try the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion for a description.

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