The History of Women’s Swimwear
As the term suggests, “women’s swimsuits” are garments worn by women for any water-sports activity such as swimming, beach or sun bathing, water skiing and diving. Beautiful models showing off their well-toned bodies that cling so very deliciously to designer swimsuits; they added glamour and oomph to any fashion magazine and therefore adding popularity to women’s swimwear. Swimwear parades become one of the main events in all the beauty pageants around the world including Miss World and Miss Universe contests.
In Roman times swimming happened in the nude and historical evidence points to the fact that people swam naked. While there are murals that prove bikini-like garments which covered women’s breasts and hip areas existed, it is clearly evident from some famous paintings that water-based activities occurred with naked swimmers. Today there is a law in the United Kingdom and most other countries banning entry of both men and women into any form of public water bath or swimming pool without decent bathing suits that cover the pertinent areas.
In the 18th century, bathing suits for women consisted of petticoats and jackets and they made with brown linen or flannel. These costumes were uncomfortable beside unflattering in appearance. In an effort to help the woman’s dignity, a culture reflecting the times, there were weights stitched to the hems to prevent the rising of the gowns when in water. By the 19th century, two-piece women’s swimwear and bathing suits became common.
In the US, women’s swimwear round as part of the beauty contests began by the 1880s. However people treated it with disdain and disrespect till 1921 when beauty contests themselves took on a hue of respectability. In Australia underwater ballerinas performing synchronized swimming were not allowed to join unless they wear clothes in a respectable manner. Glamour photography from 1940s included women wearing figure-hugging bathing suits and swimwear.
Bikinis initially came on to the scene after World War II and they named after Bikini Toll, the test site for nuclear weapons because people compare them as explosive in water as was the effect of nuclear explosions!! Till the 1950s, the bikini bottom was high up to the belly button and this style was popular back in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1960 bikinis shrank from all directions to reach their modern-day state until 2012, when the high-waist cut in women’s swimwear came back. The key to this design is in its ability to flatter most female figures including plus size and this fact makes every woman happy.
Another women’s swimwear called monokini which was originally a topless swimming costume that exposed a female breast; in modern designs, the garment has large cut-outs at both side front and back. This new design has become popular among young girls.
The tankini is a two-piece swimsuit which includes a tank top or halter top and a bikini or swim shorts bottom. The design started in late 1990s. This type of swimwear is modest and it is an alternative to a one-piece suit with more convenient, as the wearer does not need to remove the entire suit when she uses a toilet. Skirtini is similar to tankini, the only difference is that the two-piece swimsuit consisting of a styled top (halter, tank top) and a short skirt instead of a bikini bottom.
Swim dress is a one-piece women’s swimwear with a flared skirt which gives the suit looks like a short dress, usually, the skirt starting under the empire waist and flared down to the hem. With the new modern designs in late 1990s, swim dresses become popular among women especially plus size women who prefer more coverage.