It’s always swimsuit season somewhere, right? People have enjoyed taking a dip in the ocean, the pool, or a random lake somewhere. But have they always had the proper attire to do that? Well, that depends on how you define “proper”. Today’s swimsuits come in a variety of cuts, shapes, and sizes and are pretty easy to find. But throughout the last century, swimwear has gone through some changes and reincarnations you probably don’t know about.
The seaside walking dress
When going to the beach, people have always opted for something light to wear. But the light options of 1900s wardrobes were extremely heavy by today’s standards. The “seaside walking dress” woman of the time used to wear to the beach was voluminous with long sleeves and a huge skirt part. Nothing like the frilly modern beachwear we see today.
A suit for swimming
Beachwear was slowly (very slowly) becoming lighter and women usually had a designated outfit to wear to the beach. However, they didn’t have an actual garment to *swim* in, and their beach dresses were still too heavy to wear in the water. The first swimsuits came along in 1916 and looked similar to a regular one-piece with no sleeves and bottom shorts. Actually, the word “shorts” is kind of an overstatement, as the length of a woman’s swimsuit was a legal issue. That’s right — a woman who was caught showing too much leg could have been fined. Can you believe it?
Around the 1930s, other small changes were added to perfect swimwear design. The garment was introduced with improvements such as a tighter, more comfortable fit, and synthetic materials that didn’t take a long time to dry. Also, some of the length limitations were lifted, allowing for the suit to reveal more skin.
The first bikini
Paris was the bikini pioneer, introducing the skimpy two-piece in 1946. It took some time for the design to catch on, as many women weren’t comfortable with showing so much skin. Bikinis became common only a few decades later, in the 1970s. Needless to say, all swimwear rules were out the window by then, and women were free to bathe in whatever they wanted.
Meet the towel-kini
A quick look at an inline shopping website will show you swimsuits in every design you can imagine. It’s hard to think that there is more to innovate in the matter, but you’d be surprised. Have you heard of the “towelkini”? It’s an all-in-one, multipurpose beach garment that combines a beach dress, a beach towel, and of course, a bathing suit.