I've been doing a lot of research into 50s bathing suits recently because many of them have fascinating inner structures. I've been especially taken by the designs of Rose Marie Reid, who believed that swimwear should be as elegant as evening gowns--and provide the same internal support.
It will need an inner foundation, and I've been dying to try a corselet made from cotton bobbinet (blogged here). It just so happened that my friend Brenda, who used to work at a Barbara Matera, a prestigious Broadway costume shop, wrote me an e-mail telling me more about this kind of construction. In Brenda's words:
I know of a technique where you later two pieces of bobbinet perpendicular grain (lay one, turn the next layer 90 degrees and lay that on top) and machine quilt them together at 1/4 inch grids. THEN you cut the corselet out and make it. It's light as a feather, strong, and takes an eternity to make. They used to do that at Barbara Matera. They did all kinds of crazy beyond couture things there- you wouldn't believe the ballet costumes. The cotton corselets were great in sheer beaded gowns. They would dye the bobbinet to match the actor and then the corselet helped not only hold the shape of the gown and actress, but it usually eliminated the need for a bra or slip.Amazing, huh? I became entranced with this idea and tried out the quilting myself.
Anyway, here's the front bodice. It really is amazingly sturdy.