History of Swimsuits

Swimwear for women has changed by leaps and bounds.[/caption]  Did you know that bathing and swimming nude was the norm for men until the late 1860's? And surviving statues of female swimmers were always portrayed nude in ancient Greece? The history of our favorite summer accessory is actually pretty fascinating. We're breaking down the recent and not-so-recent history of the swimsuit to give ourselves a better appreciation of the look we're sporting today and the many styles that came before it. Swimming and bathing were traditionally done in the nude throughout most of human history. It wasn't until the mid-1600's for women, and the late 1860's for men, that bodies had to be covered in the water. It was once considered quite normal for men and women to swim and bathe naked. There were garments that resembled today's swimwear available, but they were used primarily as undergarments. The swimwear that was developed after skinny dipping went out the window during the 1600's was nothing like the bikinis we sport today. Legs, arms, neck and midriff were all covered by a dense fabric dress(Pretty much the exact opposite of the figure-bearing bikini of today). The fabric used in women's swimwear was thick so that it wouldn't show off or cling to a woman's body when it was wet. During the 20th century, swimwear began to change for the better. The first modern-day women's swimwear appeared during the late 20's and early 30's. Legs, arms and chest became more visible in skin-tight suits that most closely resembled today's one piece.  Initially, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the change. In the 20's, a synchronized swimmer named Annette Kellerman was sent to prison for indecent exposure because her swimsuit showed far too much leg, neck and arm skin to be acceptable. Just a few short years later, the swimsuit would undergo a dramatic revolution. The 50's saw the dawn of the bikini, although by today's standards, the style is probably best described as the tankini because it showed just a small section of the midriff above the belly button. During this time period, almost all fashion photography featured women wearing swimwear because it was more figure-bearing and fashion-forward. Did you know? That tradition continues today in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition)? From there, the swimsuit kept shrinking and shrinking until we arrived at the modern-version in the 70's that we still, to some degree, sport today. When you're shopping for a suit, you can choose from a myriad of styles including triangle bikinis, halter tops, bandeau tops, tankinis, one piece swimsuits, surfer shorts and even monokinis. The wide range of womens swimwear today is largely thanks to the swimsuit revolution that occurred in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  So the next time you're at the mall, or browsing online for a fashion-forward suit to show off your figure, send a quick mental ‘thank you' note to the ladies who came before us, forging ahead with a fashion revolution that gives us permission to flaunt what our momma's gave us.
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