It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that swimming became a recreational activity. Both men and women enjoyed the water with clothes. They wore dresses and underneath long pants, and hats to keep their skin completely pale, which at that time was a symbol of social status.
Until the arrival of the bikini in 1946, women wore one-piece swimsuits that covered their bodies for moral reasons, but also not to expose their skins to the sun.
This piece became a symbol of female liberation and since its emergence became common two-piece swimsuits. In the ’90 one of the most sought after styles was the one-piece, which was popularized by the Baywatch TV Show.
It was from this time when the swimsuits became a fashion ensemble, although they were still conservative, a part of the legs and arms was already exposed.
Most of the girls of this time wore swimsuits made of wool, and many of them complimented the outfit with stockings.
In the 1940s, bathing clothes were made of materials such as linen or cotton and that, when they entered the water and got wet, they doubled their weight.
The story goes that Louis Réard, a French mechanical engineer, was in charge of his mother’s lingerie company in the 40s and decided to dedicate himself fully to the design of clothing.
While spending his vacations on the beaches of Saint Tropez, he noticed that the women rolled up their long and uncomfortable swimsuits to get a better tan, which inspired him to design a swimsuit with an exposed belly.
In May 1946, fashion designer Jacques Heim created a two-piece swimsuit that he named “Atom” and that he advertised as “the smallest swimsuit in the world.” However, it was not yet small enough to expose the belly button, one of the greatest taboos of the time.
The bikini was not one of the most beloved garments and its fame was even more damaged when the actress and swimmer Esther Williams, known as “La Sirena de América” refused to wear one.
For purely moral reasons, the bikini had to wait for its moment of prominence in the late ’50s and early 60s, when one of its pioneers, Brigitte Bardot, promoted, with its productions in Saint Tropez and Cannes, its multiplication in the world of cinema and the media, contributing to greater social and political openness in the West.
Later, his role in And God Created Woman (1957) encouraged hundreds of women to dare to wear it.
It is in the decade of the sixties when the bikini finally becomes, essential in the wardrobe of women.
In the United States beach, culture and surfing are spreading and Beach Boys seem to go hand in hand. Although Sports Illustrated magazine published a special edition called Just Bikinis!, making a compilation of the best bikinis of the year, the most famous image of the time corresponds to the British James Bond film Dr. No, where Ursula Andress stars in a very memorable scene in the collective imagination.
The 70s welcomed the “triangle shape bra” and the lower part also adopted a much smaller version leaving more skin exposed, but with a cut to the hip.
Some theories suggest that the reduction of the size of the bikini had to do with the appearance of the first thongs, brought to fame by Rudi Gernereich who designed a version of the garment in 1974 to address the nudist prohibition of the beaches of Los Angeles.
In this decade there was an explosion of the garment. The two pieces of the 80s revealed much more the body. From then on, it settled in the wardrobe of women all over the world, of all ages, heights, and styles, to show her figure and accentuate her curves.
Flowered prints, fluorescent colors were totally new. The bikini contests organized by Hawaiian Tropic dictated the trends.
You can not talk about the 80s without mentioning Jane Fonda’s exercise videos and the sporty aesthetic that invaded everything: aerobic, heaters and fluorine-colored Mayas (along with rubber bands for the hair, slippers and fanny packs) went around to the world.
Naturally, after so much exercise, we wanted to brag about the results, so the bikinis above the hip, those that let see the worked legs in their fullness were a success.
The full swimsuits had a revival thanks to the Baywatch series, by the hand of two icons such as Pamela Anderson and Yasmine Bleeth, where women will wear their spectacular and curvy bodies on the beaches of California.
In the first fifteen years of the 21st century, bikinis fashion was a combination of the style of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. If at the beginning of showing the navel was considered in poor taste, the turn of the century made it an indispensable requirement, to see another of the fashions of the time: the navel piercings.
The use of fabrics such as lycra, crochet or neoprene, created a wide variety of designs. Recognized firms implemented a beach line in their collections.
On the beach, the triangle-shaped bikinis in metallic tones caused a furor.
The 2010s, until now
It is still early to dictate the sentence but it seems that this decade the bikini has joined the sporty trend rescuing the spirit of the eighties.
Phrases like healthy are the new skinny and yoga, a way of life seems to represent the mentality of our current society, in which sport and healthy living are the centers of the world.
Thus, the bikini has adapted to our needs with cuts that fit perfectly to our bodies and allow wide freedom of movement. The normcore trend, which has taken over both the beach and the asphalt. And if we had to choose an accessory to keep in the time capsule, the round futuristic sunglasses would have a privileged place in it.