Swimwear fashion from the 30s to the 60s, also in Catanzaro

The heat of the last few days makes you rediscover the pleasure of the sea, the freshness of the baths and the days to spend on the beach. However, it remains, especially for women, this renewed “dilemma” of what costume to wear or, perhaps, have to buy again. Fashion in general, as we know, has represented and still represents an evolution of trends, having constituted that characterizing part of society for generations. In this continuous renovation, the swimsuit, which is a fundamental part of “beach life”, is certainly not exclusive. And it is precisely in the wardrobe that we want to focus on, a fashion that has undoubtedly changed over the years for both men and women, a little “charmingly” for women. To stay in the context of the city, we will refer, in general terms, to the beach that belongs to us most, that of the Lido district and it will be through a small historical excursion that we will travel among the chaste costumes of the thirties, until those of the 50s / 60s considered more “unscrupulous”.

FASHION ’25 / ’30

With the arrival of summer began frequenting the “Marina”, although then going to the beach was not customary. Many families preferred the beaches of Soverato, but getting to the coast of Catanzaro was obviously easier, as the journey had to be done by carriage. It will be briefly recalled that in 1925 the bathing establishments, in the “Marina” of Catanzaro (it will be remembered that it was born as the “Town of the Marina”), were divided into two zones, one for women and the other for men. , strictly separated and with great respect for privacy. The “woman’s area” could only be accessed by her “spouse” through the woman’s hut, no “nudity” was allowed, and men’s clothing consisted of “regular underpants” (according to the amendment made by the Government). ), while the women had to wear a “dress” that covered them to the knees. But more specifically, even before these years, “sailor” fashion was very chaste, the ladies wore a dress with a bodice and trousers (with a large sailor cloth), covered with a wide skirt. Large “mantles” were also used for bathing and for the “after bath” she was dressed in a lighter way with fresh pastel-colored dresses rich in lace and lace, with large decorated hats and the inevitable. ” umbrella “white, small umbrella to protect you from the sun. But it is precisely in the 30s when the skirts begin to shorten and become less wide, flannel dresses with a square neckline with nautical decorations are in vogue and the first white and blue t-shirts appear. Also for men come the first wool costumes (also used by women to better hide body grip), a kind of jumpsuit to the knees mainly striped. Taffeta was widely worn by ladies with short skirts and a belt at the hips, but also woolen sweater dresses close to the body and sleeveless. The piece, almost always covered with white pique hats or the first bathing caps. Even the beach in the maritime district adapts to fashion and the ladies of the time wear this type of costume, several photos that portray them sitting in a beautiful pose on the beach, in them particular hats and shoes with long laces to tie them to the beach. ankle are prominent. .


But it is towards the forties when the “Marina” itself changes its face, the bathing establishments are still formed by the classic “xancos”, but also built on the big beach with cabins. Now the “classifications” of the banks are forgotten, the first jukeboxes appear, the orchestras enliven the summer evenings and, of course, the fashion of the costumes also changes. The fabric used for the piece shrinks a bit, so much so that the shorts separate from the bodice becoming “two pieces”. A brief note with a curiosity takes us back to 1939, when the fashion house “Jantzen” presented the first two official pieces: a corset that covered the belly and a pair of shorts that reached the hip. The idea was launched by Greta Garbo, who, in the film “The Woman with Two Faces”, had worn a very daring black sweater costume at the time. And that’s why the first elastic swimsuits also appear on the beach of the “Marina”, the models are diverse, adaptable to all women and the body, but there are also particular purely silk costumes, although a piece that still wears few. Some episodes come to mind, as Domenico Pittelli recalls in his “Catanzaro of other times”, in fact there were those who, coming from neighboring countries, no longer made use of the classic “huts” on the beach (formerly widely used together with the wooden huts on the beach in the Lido district) as he himself writes “… they frequented the establishments with a certain shame and shyness: the women went down to the sea, dressed in big white shirts, which ended up, in the water, sticking -se in the body, highlighting the shapes …… ”. Fashion also spread to men and the classic “shorts” were woven or elastic and the little ones, for the “after bath”, wore colorful “mamelus” formed by shorts combined with a bib.


In the 1950s, the one-piece swimsuit was still used, many girls in the “Navy” wore it, and in addition to the knitted sweater, usually black, were added rubber bands of different colors, which, like those of cotton, featured a short skirt to cover the top of the legs. Summer is a great excuse for fashion and on the legendary terrace of the restaurant / bar “Carmelina” (also known as Miramare) the styles are varied. However, on the beach there is also simplicity and the girls wear swimsuits in sober colors (green, red and turquoise are used a lot) or with polka dot and flower prints, which can usually be found in large straw hats. But it is also the years of the famous “bikini” (which already appears in 1946) used by a few women since it was further reduced compared to the two-piece “firstborn”, still very chaste. On the beach in the sea district you go down with the whole family staying all day, you play, you eat (going to the restaurant was not for everyone), you joke with your old friends and swim to get to the famous buoy. it was inevitable (the Gutta) for a meeting between friends or for a date between boyfriends.


The fashion of the legendary 60s is always characterized by the use of a one-piece swimsuit, but the models that could also be seen on the beach of Catanzaro are new. The necklines are love, the straps are tied behind the neck and “cups” are added to highlight the bust. There is still the part of the “skirt” that covers the hips and the bust at the front often has a particular pleat. However, there is no shortage of ruffles in bikinis that take on even more and the rubber caps are multicolored with floral embellishments, worn so as not to ruin the style. Also for men, fashion changes and shorts alternate with the higher but high-waisted, elastic or even plush ones, the colors are as different as the prints. But what remained crucial for the women were the cover-ups, some plush, others made of cotton consisting of a small sailor jacket and knee-length pants or high-waisted shorts, supplied with straw beach bags and made with rigor. high-heeled wooden clogs, adorned with flowers or raffia applications in different shades. The days at the beach in the neighborhood of the sea are in the memory of the fun of young people, in the shade of large wooden umbrellas and large colored tarpaulins, baths, music from turntables or moments spent in the low walls of the promenade. The mythical beaches of that time represented the “history” of the city’s beach, such as forgetting the Lido Geniuzza, the Mancuso, the Anapi and the Greco beach or, again, the “Poste” and the beach of la Sirena, these are some of the very popular beaches at the time. Time has passed, but memories remain, of fashion, of its future and of those wonderful years spent at sea that will never be forgotten. (photos were kindly provided by Salvatore Rubino, Fortunato Polizzese, Massimo Scarfone and Cinzia Carpino of a post on the Facebook group “Catanzaro Antica”)

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