going to the beach became a social activity, because of this bathing and swimwear suits came into fashion. As described by Dennis Nothdruft, curator of London’s Fashion and Textile, “early fabrics and materials for swimwear would have been serge, heavy cotton or wool. Women would have worn caps, shoes, and stockings.”
During the 1850’s,
bloomers came into fashion and were attributed to Amelia Bloomer, who was the editor of the first newspaper for women, The Lily (1849-1853). She wrote many articles related to the pant-tunic outfit, which let women to get rid of the heavy burden of long skirts.
sailor fashion becomes even more popular in the 19th century as illustrated in Tom Tierney’s History of Swimwear.
In the early 1900s,
Hemlines began to appear and became increasingly acceptable to show more skin. Swimsuits became skimpier as swimmer Annette Kellerman wore a knit bathing unitard, with a scoop neck, showed half her leg and arms. This was finally something women can literally swim in.
In the 1910s,
Following Kellerman, Jantzen, a knitter in Portland began selling swimming suits made from wool. Other knitted swimsuits were made with elasticated thread, and the body-hugging costumes continued well into the 1920s most likely a two-piece version.
During the 1940s-1950s sweetheart necklines, scalloped edges, feminine cuts and design-forward details in Lycra and Nylon fabrics were introduced and became popular.
In 1946 French engineer Louis Réard made a new shape and named it after a U.S. atomic test off the Bikini Atoll. Soon, the two-pieces were everywhere and this really took off in the 1960s.
Unlike the two-piece swimming suits which were also being worn, and exposed the navel the main point of the bikini, was considered risky when introduced and came into fashion but became the norm in following upcoming decades.
During the 1960s-70s, swim suits became smaller, sleeker, cozier, smoother and tighter. Rudi Gernreich introduced a topless bathing suit called the monokini, and he went on to create the pubkini which was meant to show off the pubic hair of the swimmer. In the advancement of the 70s, more psychedelic prints of bikinis began to appear as well as the thong bathing suits were also hitting the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
During the 1980s to ’90s showing off thighs became a trend. The trendy high-cut briefs that emphasize the leg line became famous, but it pressurizes many women to get rid of their body hair as the bottom was much narrow which makes the wearer conscious. For this reason, in 1987 Brazilian waxes were introduced for women in the U.S.
In the 2000s one-pieces did a huge comeback specifically with hot and sexy cutouts, and high-waist briefs are still in fashion nowadays. Whereas, the shaping of bodies through swimsuits like the structured and corseted swimsuits of the 1950s with special and purposeful designed fabrics has also returned however the wool suits are not having a comeback neither will they come in the future as predicted.