SWIMSUITS OVER TIME

The Swimsuit Shift Over Time!
A Change in Culture, Mindset, Style Icons, and Social Status.


Swimsuits have been one of the most controversial clothing articles historically. The reason being a relatively quick shift in the design and popularity in this category that challenged not just the fashion ideals but the entire socio-cultural system.

The modern swimwear we see does not invite the outrage it did in the early 1900s when the Edwardian trends prevailed. From hats to lace boots, women donned their ladylike dresses to beaches. Men were also banned from baring their chests or show their belly buttons publicly.

It was in 1907 when Australian Annette Kellerman innovated swimwear as a tighter, one-piece collarless and buttonless dress, she was arrested for her indecency.

 In 1916, Jantzen introduced tighter and shorter bathing suits for women. They named it swimsuits rather than bathing suits to attribute their clothing line as an athletic choice.

In 1920, the swimwear had to still meet a certain length or the women were fined for it. However, collars, skirts, and sleeves were removed from the dresses and it became publicly acceptable as well.

 In the 1930s, not only were the lengths of swimwear shortened and the neckline dropped but it also witnessed a shift in the fabric from woolen or sagging clothes to synthetic stretchy materials.

The year 1946 saw a sudden hue and cry when the 2 piece bikini was worn by a dancer Micheline Bernardini for the first time in Paris. It was criticized as a dress that ‘revealed everything about a woman except her mother’s maiden name”. However, until the late 1950s, it was still considered improper to reveal the navel which too became acceptable later in the 1970s.

Throwing over the little modesty left in the swimsuits, bikinis in the 1980s revealed more of the midriff at the front and backbone at the back. They also became printed, stylish, and iconic objectifying women inadvertently.

The 1990s developed bikinis to Tankinis with more athletic designs that mixed and matched prints, plains, tops, and bottoms.



The Recent Era

2000s saw a trend of stylish swimwear brands emerging in the west where boy-shorts became popular showing how women were idealized to mimic the other gender in every way possible.

Over the past century, as the full-length dresses were replaced by barely-there bikinis, women got liberated from the limiting social norms only to get tangled in another. The revealing swimsuits on the downside, objectified women, promoted a perfect body shape, weight, and figure as a standard of beauty. This became a burden for women of all ages, wrecking their confidence, pushing them to strict workouts, and making them feel unattractive if they deviated from the standard.

Today, thankfully the advocates of bikinis have realized the damage the bikini trend did to women psychology. Today, they are talking about accepting the body as it is and promoting the confidence of embracing yourself and feeling comfortable in your skin.

In the year 2020, it is more about the beach mindset a beachwear needs to promote rather than a beauty icon.

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