While the modern-day swimsuit is an epitome of sexiness and confidence, its history is an interesting piece of trivia that you might have not thought much about. Yes, ladies and gents—here we’ll answer the usually neglected question of how bathing suits came to be.
Bathing suits saw their beginnings in the 18th century, when people realized that the beach offered a conducive venue for amusement, and so people started flocking to the shores to have fun in the sea and sand. Ladies are into fashion, of course, and this new outdoor activity required a special garment. Thus, the rise of bathing suits.
The 1700’s swimsuit style was modest, since the skin needed to be “untouched by the sun”. The women wore bonnets, gloves and shawls over their flowing head-to-toe bathing gown. This style went on until the first half of the 19th century. Victorian women were provided with bathing machines that could be dragged to the sea to protect their privacy while swimming in the ocean.
By the time the second half rolled in, the bathing suits became shorter (knee-length) and more form-fitting around the hips and upper body. In the early 1900’s the old-style suits became so burdensome, leading to even shorter, sleeveless and lighter garments. By 1915, women learned to swim competitively, thereby making custom swim suits that were form-fitting. It earned the ire of critics, but was mostly well-received by women from all over the world.
Believe it or not, the World War has revolutionized swimsuits. To meet the demand of 10% reduction in garment due to rationing, two-piece bathing suits were born. In the post-war era, bikinis with the characteristic gap in the middle were produced.
All throughout the decades following this development, different styles have been created, seeing a shift in the materials to provide more flexibility to the swimmer. The selection we have now are variations of the vintage style swimwear made through the years. Don’t you just love the colorful history of swimsuits?