It’s warming up again and bathing suit season is fast approaching – way too fast in my opinion!! Why do those who shouldn’t wear bikinis, insist on wearing bikinis? I’m want to celebrate their confidence, but aren’t there some things that are just better left to the imagination? How has swimwear changed over the last hundred years or so, and when did modesty go out the window?
In the 18th century, “bathing” was fashionable but exposed skin mustn’t be touched by the sun. I can’t imagine wearing a long-sleeved gown over pants, a short scarf, kid gloves, and sandals, to the beach. Some ladies even added weights to the hem of their gowns to keep their legs covered.
In the 1890s, women wore the more familiar black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dress, often with a sailor collar, and worn over bloomers with ribbons and bows. Don’t forget to accessorize with long black stockings, bathing slippers, and cap.
Camouflaging the female form (I like that idea) started to change in 1910 with one piece garments made from a wool knit that fit when dry, but sagged and dragged when wet. More skin was exposed between the bottom of the suit and the top of the stockings. Shocking!
Corset manufacturers tapped into the bathing suit market in the 1940’s by designing garments that hid faults in a woman’s shape by adding stretch tummy control panels, as well as bra cups and boning for bust support (yeah Baby)! Add halter top and skirted bottoms made from cotton with a jersey knit lining. Accessorize with a sun hat and sun glasses!
By the 1950’s, Moms and daughters wore matching suits, and the combination of pink and black was popular. An early form of spandex was being used to make the suits more figure-flattering. Boy legs were introduced in the late 1950’s. Suits were also fancier with dressmaker touches like rick-rack trim and buttons. Matching skirts worn over the suit made them look like a sundress. And don’t forget your flowered bathing cap to protect your perfect hair-do!
Two piece suits became popular in the 1960’s which led to the popularity of bikinis in the 1970’s. Bikinis have been recorded in 200 A.D. but not patented until 1946. Bikinis keep shrinking – the G-string or even more revealing, the thong also called the Brazilian tanga.
And that is where I’m stopping… because I have never had the confidence to wear a bikini, even when I still had the figure for it…and all this talk about bathing suits is depressing…maybe I’ll be pro-active and go for a long walk — there’s a convenience store close by and I meet O Henry there!