Two-Piece vs. One-Piece: Numerically this battle is going to the one-piece suit by ratio of three to one.
Caption from LIFE. Two-Piece vs. One-Piece: Numerically this battle is going to the one-piece suit by ratio of three to one.Nina Leen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Two-Piece vs. One-Piece: Numerically this battle is going to the one-piece suit by ratio of three to one.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Knee-length shorts, called "pirate pants," are a copy of a style popular on the Riviera last summer. Made of striped piqué, they fit tight to the thigh and have a fly front. The absorbent worsted jersey middy fits loosely, is long enough to cover wet bathing suits. (Shorts: $7.95; middy: $12.95; both by Cabana.)
Pared-down t-shirts worn with shorts have classic stripes but are cut to reveal bare areas. Emily Wilken's red and black cobbler's apron playsuit (left, $19.95) leaves midriff uncovered. Sheperd's striped top (center, $1.98) and Carolyn Schnurer's purple and white shirt (right, $10.95) are scooped out at neck.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Black suits and big hats go well together. The exaggerated size of the headgear sets off the deliberate plainness of these one-piece bathing suits, which are (left to right): a Catalina ($14.95), Jantzen ($15.95), Tina Leser ($22.95).
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Beach fashion in Florida, 1950.
Posies and pink terry cloth are worn together. Artificial flowers which adorn sombrero are $1 each (Heineman). Toga (Bonnie Cashin, $14.95) has big pockets in the pieces which are thrown over the shoulder.
Caption from LIFE. Two-Piece vs. One-Piece: Numerically this battle is going to the one-piece suit by ratio of three to
... VIEW MORE

Nina Leen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
1 of 15

Ring In Memorial Day With These 1950s Beach Fashions

May 22, 2015
May 15, 1950 cover of LIFE Magazine Nina Leen—LIFE Magazine 

On Memorial Day, swimming pools and beaches open for the season. It's an occasion for sun-worshipers to assess their beachwear, digging it out from the depths of dresser drawers. That desire to make a style splash at the shore is nothing new. To celebrate the arrival of beach season in 1950, LIFE’s Nina Leen photographed that season’s trends for women: strapless and halter-top swimsuits, “pirate pants” drawn from fashions of the French Riviera and island-inspired straw hats. Thighs were in and midriffs were out, as simple suits allowed accessories the spotlight. As for the age-old one-piece versus two-piece debate? LIFE had the scoop: “The two-piece suit in general is running a poor second this summer.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @LizabethRonk.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.