The History of the Swimsuit
Photo Credit: TheRosevelts.com, Victoria Secret
Shopping for a bathing suit? Which do you prefer, a sexy bikini, a retro one piece or a form fitting tankini?
Women have a smorgasbord of swimwear options that allow them to cover, or uncover, as much as they want. But this hasn’t always been the case when it comes to female swimsuits. Throughout history, swimsuits have gone from full covering wool dresses to barely there coverings on our lady bits.
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For those who think a one piece is too much coverage, the bathing dresses of the Victorian era seem extreme. However, these pieces were revolutionary for women at the time. The wool tunics over long skirts or bloomers were too heavy for swimming, but it allowed women to enjoy the ocean’s fresh air.
Photo Credit: TheRosevelts.com
Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman caused a scandal when she swam across the English Channel in a tight fitting one-piece with, gasp, short sleeves. This suit helped paved the way for women to show more skin around the arms and neck.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress
Jantzen, a small company from Portland, introduced the wool-swimming suit. The style took off in the 1920's, causing decency arrests on public beaches everywhere.
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Swimsuits begin to appear in halter-tops and low back styles, mimicking the lines of glamorous evening gown.
Photo Credit: Time, Marie Claire
Swimsuits became ultra-feminine in halter-tops with skirted bottoms. Due to a fabric shortage during the War, swimsuits shrunk in size.
Photo Credit: Time
The first bikini is invented by Louis Reard! Hawt!
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Pin up styles became de rigeur. Apron styles, suits that sit over the stomach and thighs, come in halter and strapless styles.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated; Columbia Pictures CinemaScope
An obsession with teen beach parties rules Western films. Swimsuits become itsy, bitsy and teenie weenie.
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The “Tanga” swimsuit, the thong swimsuit, begins to appear on beaches. For those less daring, crotchet and mesh are added to swimwear styles.
Photo Credit: Cole of California, Il Piacere
For 80's babes, it’s all about the V-kini, a high leg line suit with plunge necklines that came in both bikini and one-piece variations.
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Athletic ware influences the swimsuit. Baywatch continued the high leg-line trend, and necklines became square.
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The Tankini is invented by swimwear designer Anne Cole.
Photo Credit: Victoria Secret; Rose Cha
Mirroring the jean trend, leg lines move down and become low rise. Coincidently, Brazilian waxes become more popular than ever.
Photo Credit: VintageDancer, Modest Sea.com; Victoria Secret
From tiny bikinis to full bodied suits, swimwear options are available to everyone and for everybody.
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