Awhile ago, I had an amazing trip to Hawaii, and while in Hawaii I basically lived in a swimsuit, and so I am going to talk about the history of the swimsuit today.
I actually was introduced to this idea because I had seen a podcast on the instagram called @dressed_podcast and I was instantly intrigued by the idea. So the information that I am sharing today will be coming from what I learned from listening to these two particular podcasts by them.
To start out, according to the podcast, the first bikini depicted on a floor mosaic from ancient Rome. The woman in this are not going to swim, according to this article, but instead are exercising. After the fall of the Roman empire, though, you don't see swimsuits anymore because modesty was very important people didn't typically bath or swim for recreation. So from here, there is a big gap in swimsuit use all the way to the 19th century.
Starting in the 19th century, swimsuits became necessary due to the introduction of the railroad system. This allowed people to travel to the coasts easier and introduced more recreational swimming. Although swimming became more popular, people were still not ready to see women in a swimsuit like you see me in the photo below. Instead, they were very concerned about women showing too much skin and wanted to preserve their modesty. Consequently, women had to wear an outfit that covered everything and was rather baggy. The fabric that they used was heavy and would insure that the clothes didn't rise too much when they were in the water.
Along with very restrictive swimwear, men also didn't want women to walk into the water in the "swimsuit". This would allow them to be visible and so they created a contraption to wheel them into the water, as seen above. This allowed the women to change and then enter the water without showing themselves too much outside of the water. Such great lengths to cover the bottoms of her legs!
Overtime, the long sleeved top and bloomer bottoms were replaced with a shorter sleeves and tights. Still, the swimming suits would weigh up to 30 lbs when wet, and swimsuits were still made of wool and cotton at this time.
Eventually though, women were able to negotiate the ability to wear the knit style of swimsuit that men wore and that changed things for them drastically in the early 1900s. Unsurprisingly, there were still rules to insure women were properly covered up and women often were arrested for indecency if they didn't follow the rules of what was deemed appropriate for swimsuits.
Here, an officer is measuring the women's swimsuit to insure that she isn't breaking any rules in 1922. And, around this time high-end fashion decided to finally take part in the development of swimsuits and started to create swimsuits that resemble the ones we wear today.
Leading up to World War II, two pieces gained popularity. They still had to be modest and cover the belly button. I actually love the high waist bikinis and that is what I wear most of the time. Below, you can see a photo of Marilyn Monroe showing off the popular look.
After the War, swimsuits changed a lot more and women started to push the limits of bikinis. In the 60s, swimsuits had beautiful vibrant colors and fun patterns. It is fun to look at the styles they chose during that time.
After the introduction of the bikini, swimsuits just took off and women were free to wear what they wanted. They have come long way since the mid 19th century and it is fun to see women express themselves through their swimsuits. Thanks for reading! What did you think? Are you so grateful that you don't have to wear wool when you swim?? I am! Shout out to women in history for making changes!