Bathing Suits

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Bathing Suits Throughout History

It's fun to check out how bathing suits have evolved through the years, and it's interesting to note that the trend has not always been "showing more and more skin as the years go by." In fact, there have been records of nude bathing in Ancient Greece and Rome.

In the 1700s, bathing suits were known as "bathing gowns" because they literally covered a woman from the neck down. They weren't even made from light material; these bathing suits had to be thick enough so as not to be transparent when wet.

They also had weights sewn into the hems so the gown wouldn't float in water. The following century, bathing suits comprised two pieces, although this is a far cry from the two-piece bathing suits we know today. The version back then had skirts that fell to the knees, with trousers that reached the ankles underneath them.

In the early 1900s, an underwater ballerina by the name of Annette Kellerman was charged with indecent exposure when she swam in a glass tank wearing a swimsuit that showed her neck, arms, and legs. She was then forced to wear another which covered her extremities and even featured a collar, but it heralded the introduction of form-fitting bathing suits.

Bathing suits later used less and less material, starting with a baring of the arms and the legs. This trend was followed by a lowering of the neckline to near the top of a woman's bosom. More comfortable bathing suits soon arrived on the market, replacing the unwieldy and heavy fabrics of the past.

In the middle of the 20th century, glamour photography featuring women wearing the "revolutionary" swimsuits boomed. The bathing suits were now sleeveless and ended somewhere near mid-thigh, but they were already form-fitting. The wearing of these as yet conservative bathing suits were made popular by Hollywood divas such as Bette Davis and Marilyn.

Bikinis were first introduced during the post-World War II era. However, the only difference they had from the bathing suits of the earlier decades was a narrow gap in the midriff section. The new outfit got its name from Bikini Atoll, where several nuclear tests were performed. It is said that the name refers to the "explosive" effect these outfits had on the onlookers.

All through the 1950s, proper girls had to be "modest" and the lower part of these two-piece bathing suits were kept above the navel. However, the flower people of the 1960s took bathing suits to new heights - or rather, "lows" - when the fabric became smaller than ever, sometimes barely enough to cover the delicate parts. Then came the 1980s when the tanga became highly popular in Brazil. The one piece bathing suits hung on, however, and were used by the more conservative women.

Bathing suits continue to evolve but their shrinking may have reached the ultimate point when the thong came out. Classic styles, such as trunkini bathing suits (swimsuits with tank tops) and hemlines that go lower keep coming back from time to time.

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