We parade these outfits along the beach all summer long, yet has anyone ever stopped to think when and how the modern-day swimsuit originated from? Here’s a history on how this now-skimpy beach apparel has become an iconic symbol during the dry season.
From Burqini to Bikini
A more conservative type of swimwear emerged in the 1850s, when nude bathing began to go out of style due to the practice being banned in many towns. With a full skirt, long sleeves, and leggings, this 1880 swimsuit hid every bit of skin that it possibly could.
From that point on, the swimsuit has been on a journey of shedding more and more skin. Throughout the 1900s up until almost five decades later – when the swimsuit was finally invented by Louis Reard – the swimsuit had a fashionable yet conservative appeal.
The likes of Annette Kellerman, a ballerina who caused a stir when her swimwear exposed her arms and neck, and Yolande Fox, the Miss America winner who refused to pose in a swimsuit, were much talked about and very controversial back then.
The Swimsuit as an Icon
Today we give the swimsuit such marvelous attention due to several iconic moments in our history. Celebrities, movies, and the media are what shaped swimwear into what it is today.
That moment when Ursula Andress emerged from the water in a gorgeous bikini as the first Bond girl, for example, left a mark in today’s cinema. Raquel Welch donning a furkini in One Million Years B.C. gave cavemen a sexier appearance, while Carrie Fisher’s metal bikini in Return of the Jedi wooed the entire science fiction world.
The bikini is so iconic, in fact, that in 2011 the red swimsuit that made Farrah Fawcet a 1970s icon was donated and displayed at the Smithsonian. Let’s not forget Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff, and the cast of Baywatch all running around television screens in red swimwear.
The Swimsuit Today
That leaves us in today’s era where the swimsuit is a stylish symbol for the summer. Whether worn out in the open beaches or in the privacy of backyard swimming pools, the swimsuit is here to stay and it’s more innovative than ever. When you wear that bikini, think back on where it has gone and how it has evolved through the decades. You’ll be enriched and enlightened by what you’ll discover.