Fashions Fade, Style Is Eternal

Evolution Of The Swimsuit

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Predecessors of the bikini date back to Neolithic and ancient Greek and Roman times.  In fact, archeological finds show the Roman goddess Venus wearing a bikini.

In the Victorian era women who dared to swim went to crazy lengths to conceal themselves on the beach.  There was a contraption called the bathing machine, which was pretty much a wooden hut on wheels and was developed to conceal women swimmers from any prying eyes.   The women would enter the hut fully clothed and don their swimming clothes inside.   The hut would then be pulled either by horses or men to the edge of the sea where they would disembark and paddle close to the hut.  Ha, that’s just lazy isn’t it!

Good thing they got away from those prying eyes!

The groundwork for the modern bikini began in 1907, when Australian swimmer and performer, Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Boston beach for wearing a form-fitting one-piece swimsuit, which became an accepted beach attire for women by 1910.  In 1913, inspired by the introduction of women into Olympic swimming, the first functional two-piece swimwear was made, a close-fitting one-piece with shorts on the bottom and short sleeves on top.

Feisty Annette Kellerman being arrested for indecent exposure, along with friend in Boston

A city official making sure suits were no more than 6 inches above the knee

By the 1930’s, necklines plunged at the back, sleeves disappeared and sides were cut away.  Hollywood endorsed the new glamour with film stars wearing provocatively named costumes such as “Double Entendre” and “Honey Child”. With new materials like latex and nylon, by 1934 the swimsuit started hugging the body and had shoulder straps to lower for tanning.

Film star, Esther Williams

While two-piece bathing suits had been worn on the beach before, the modern bikini was invented by French engineer Louis Reard in 1946. He named it after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests in July that year.  He said that the excitement of his new creation would be just like a nuclear explosion!

A teenage Brigitte Bardot on Cannes beachfront

Interesting stuff hmm!

Today we have all sorts of swimsuits to choose from – one pieces, bikinis, one shoulders, tankinis, monokinis, thongs and even burqini’s worn by Muslim women.  With all the choice and with all the different trends, it can get confusing to choose the right bathing suit for you (and horrifying at the thought of bearing your lily white skin and possibly blinding the person next to you in the park who’s about to tuck into their first picnic of the year)!  However, it’s essential to find one that flatters your body and keeps you feeling confident (and brave) throughout the summer.

Pop back in soon for tips on swimwear for different body shapes!

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