Womens Swimwear Revolution

By: Linda Paquette

History of Women Swimwear
Swimsuits have ebbed and flowed through the centuries!

It’s almost certain that the first swimmers wore no suit at all and although some historians date women’s first swimsuits to the Eighteenth Century, the first recorded use of clothing for swimwear dates back to 300 BC in ancient Greece. Togas were then the typical attire for bathing and swimming, yet bikini-clad womenare visible in mosaics located in the villa at Piazza Armernia in Sicily.

Roman Empire
Swimming for recreation declined at the fall of the Roman Empire and the sea was viewed as only a therapeutic spa.

1800's
Even as late as the Eighteenth Century a brief “dip’ in the waters of a public bath was considered a swim.

  • Modesty was the word of the day. Men kept to one side of a beach or pool and women to the other. Women’s swimwear was confined to bathing gowns. Some women even sewed lead weights into the hems of these smocks to prevent them from floating to the surface and exposing their legs.
  • The modern day swimsuit began as a smock worn over bloomers and black stockings. In 1880, the Princess Cut was introduced, a blouse and trousers in one piece. Since then women’s swimsuits have run the gamut of changes, from the tank suit to the string bikini, and in some cases circled back to its bare beginnings – the birthday suit!

1940's
During the 1940’s, pinup girls wore high heels and jewelry to emphasize their feminine attributes.

Wartime rationing ordered garments to be manufactured with less fabric. One designer, Louis Reard, rose to the challenge and introduced the bikini, which he called “the smallest swimsuit in the world”. In another quote Reard said, “It’s so small that it reveals everything about the girl except for her mother’s maiden name!”

1950's to 1960's
Women’s swimwear designers pulled in waistlines and padded busts and derrieres with cotton. The hourglass figure was in! Just as women were ready to turn blue from lack of breath, Christian Dior introduced relaxed looks in a-lines, y-lines, the trapeze, and the sack. However, designer Rudi Gernrich took the most daring plunge in swimsuit fashion, when he introduced the topless swimsuit in the 1960’s!

1980's to 1990's
Swimwear is design to fit the woman and her lifestyle!

  • During the early 1980's, technology made radical changes in recreation as railroads made seaside vacations more accessible. Americans flocked to the beaches and women were no longer content to sit on the shore. The need for a comfortable recreational garment was born and the women’s swimsuit revolution began.
  • Designers begun to look at swimwear from a woman’s viewpoint and the emphasis in present day swimwear is on total look and comfort. Women’s swimsuits are as varied as activities at the beach and are available for every figure and every purpose, from womens board shorts for the surfing girl to maternity swimwear for expectant mothers and infant swimwear to help mom get quickly back to the beach after the baby comes!
  • The swimsuit designs of the 1980's to1990's allows the female body to be erotically concealed yet exposed in sheer, see-through swimwear that leaves “just enough” to the imagination. Tan-through swimwear allows sun worshipers to achieve a lineless tan all over, without being “over-exposed!”

2000 to Current Year
Present day women’s swimsuits go beyond the beach.

  • Women’s swimwear designers like, Roxy, Vix, Venus, and Lisa Lozano of TNA Swimwear create fashionable tops that coordinate beautifully with separately sold bottoms. Frequently today, these stunning tops combine with wraps, sandals, and other fashion accessories to go directly from the beach to the dinner party.
  • For many modern women, a swimwear collection is the foundation for their summertime wardrobe. In addition, because of the ease of modern travel, many women keep their swimsuit wardrobe handy year round!

3 Billion Dollars Industry
The American swimsuit industry generates over three billion dollars a year in trade. Retailers constantly add lines to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for new styles.

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