If there is one piece of clothing that has evolved more than any other through the decades, it’s the swimming suit. Have you ever wondered how our current swimwear trends came to be?
It’s no mystery that women’s wear has evolved over the years and that fashion today is very different than it was a hundred years ago. The Fashion In The City team invites you to take a journey through history to revisit the evolution of the bikini!
Prior to the 19th century and the Victorian era, there was no set fashion apparel that people were expected to wear to the beach. In fact, the norm was to bathe naked!
In the mid-1800s, when railroads made it possible for people to experience going to the beach as a recreational activity, a clothing ensemble was initiated primarily for the purpose of covering up ones body. The outfits would be hard to recognize as swimwear in our modern eyes, as the outfits resembled a long top garment with a belt over baggy pants, made with thick material so that the fabric would not rise in water. As the societal norm at the time was modesty, the woman’s ensemble was primarily to cover the woman’s body completely.
Bathing suit styles over the years, proved one very important element when studied through archived photographs. These changes were linked to social change, but more importantly, what a woman’s role in society was defined as in that era.
In the 20th century, when swimming was regarded as a sport, the public realized that the beach clothing ensemble was not designed with functionality in mind. As the sport became more popular, the fabric became lighter and the designs were shorter, to provide less resistance to the flow of water.
By the 1910s, women’s swimwear was tight, significantly shorter as the hems reached the mid-thigh, and women were able to show their arms. Through the 1920s, the swimsuit became even shorter, while Hollywood and Vogue popularized the idea that swimsuits could be sexy and glamorous, an idea that persists to this day.
In the 1930s and 1940s, two-piece swimsuits became popular, though they were still far from what we have today. The bottom piece of the swimsuit would usually cover above a woman’s navel, leaving only the midriff to be seen.
In 1946, Louis Reard, a French designer, introduced the bikini named after a U.S. atomic test called Bikini Atoll. The design was so risque at the time that the woman hired to model this swimsuit was a Parisian showgirl.
Following the release of the first bikini, the style truly gained traction and popularity, especially in the late 70s and 80s. The design and cuts have varied over the years, and women’s swimwear expanded to include not only the styles popular from each decade, from the 1950s to the 2000s, but also new innovative designs that reflect cultural and resource changes.
Today, a woman can find a swimsuit that makes her feel beautiful in virtually any size!
Explore Fashion In The City’s swimwear at www.fashioninthecity.com/womens-swimwear/, and strut into Summer!