Bikinis - Then and Now
Circa 1962: A woman wearing a polka-dot bikini smiles while laying stomach-down on an inflatable raft, floating in the water. (Photo by Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images)
Swimsuits, in general, have definitely come a long way over the years. One of the first known swimsuits was made out of wool because it was thought to keep the swimmer from getting too chilly in the water. If you have ever been wearing a wool garment that got wet, you probably know how uncomfortable and heavy it can get.
Thankfully, designers came to their senses and started using other fabrics at some point. As we know the swimsuits of today, men and women cover themselves differently when taking a dip or sunning themselves. In the early 1900s, most early swimsuits in America were one piece for both sexes.
It’s no secret that Americans have historically been more conservative and modest regarding the subject of nudity. Other countries, however, have had less strict standards. The French have been known to be less uptight in this area and their women were wearing 2-piece swimsuits long before they came across the pond.
America watched women abroad wearing less and less to the beach. As late as the mid-1950s, though, America still wasn’t completely onboard. Modern Girl magazine published an article in 1957, which stated, in part, “It is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing.”.
After the wool swimsuit lost its charm, designers started listening to their consumers. Clothing styles were changing and women, mainly, wanted to cover up less when sunbathing or swimming so they didn’t have unsightly tan lines when wearing the plunging necklines that were becoming popular.
In the late 1950s the song, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was released by Brian Hyland. At the time, this song was kind of pushing the envelope on the subject and was considered a little racy. Keep in mind that what was considered “itsy bitsy” at the time covered more than some undergarments do these days.
By the 1970s, bikinis had become so popular that public swimsuit contests were popping up on beaches everywhere. Before we knew it, bikinis were here to stay!
Next came the string bikini, the strapless bikini, the sling bikini, the thong bikini and the see-through bikini for goodness sakes! Obviously, these swimsuits leave very little to the imagination. These days it isn’t uncommon for certain beaches to have topless and/or nude beaches.
I wonder what those people in the early 1900s that wore those horrible wool bathing suits would think about the styles today.
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