A Brief History of Bathing SuitsBathing suits, also known as swim suits, are clothes designed for swimming, and go by my different names and styles, depending on their purpose and make. The use of bathing suits these days is a matter of tradition rather than "decency," although in the west (the Americas) modesty is still a stringently enforced attitude when swimming in public.
Another use for bathing suits is the display in beauty pageants. Sports Illustrated features an annual swim suit edition, which tends to look upon the bathing suit in terms of fashion, just as pageants do.
History of the Bathing suit
The use of bathing suits goes back as far as the Classical Greek period. Although bathing at that time was done primarily in the nude, some apparel did exist, as can be seen in ancient murals at Pompeii where women of Ancient Greece are displayed in two-piece bikini-like bathing suits. Since then, bathing suits seemed to have vanished for centuries.
It wasn''t until the eighteenth century that bathing suits showed up again in the form of "bathing gowns." Women wore long dresses made from a non-thinning material that prevented transparency when wet. These bathing suits also featured little weights hung around the lower hem to restrain them from rising in the water. The men wore close-fitting, long-sleeved bathing suits similar to modern-day long johns that were made out of wool. These bathing suits were, to say the least, intended to maintain modesty.
The nineteenth century brought the two-piece bathing suits for the women, featuring a gown shoulder-to-knees over a set of well-fitted pants extending to the ankles. Men, needless to say, had similar bathing suits, only without the gown. With these, style was coming into play, but modesty was still an ongoing tradition.
Radical changes in style and attitude came in a flash during the twentieth century when bathing, and bathing suits, became less conservative and more casual and practical. Such modesty, although still respected and upheld throughout the world, especially in the west, gave way to comfort and fashion. Collars fell from the neck to the chest, and the bottoms rose upward.
The bikini came into being not too long after World War II, when glamour photography put the spotlight on the fashionable and beauty aspects of bathing and bathing suits. Named after Bikini Atoll, a nuclear weapon site, the bikini so related itself due to the "explosive" attraction it played on the eyes and the minds of the viewers. It''s in this sense that bathing suits turned from articles of traditional swimwear to an expression of fashion. Oo, la la!
In the 1950s, fashion designer Rudi Gernriech introduced the monokini, which was merely a bikini without the top half. Women were suggested to go bare-breasted. This bathing suit failed commercially, but brought about new fashion insights. Then the mighty thong of the 1980s revealed yet more, but, again, in the name of fashion and naturalness. With changing purposes for the bathing suits, people''s attitudes shifted from the need for modesty to that of sensual attraction.
In modern times, specialized bathing suits are made for scuba diving and competitive swimming. Unitards and diveskins made of spandex reduce skin drag, and although these bathing suits do not promote thermal protection, they do protect the skin from stings, abrasions, cuts, and scratches. These bathing suits are even designed to enhance swimming motion.
Today, bathing suits come in a variety of interesting styles and appearances, depending on personal preference: tank suits (one-piece), monokinis, sling bikinis ("suspender thong"), pretzel suits, string-bodies, halter-necks, maillots, and plunge fronts?anything and everything! Many of the names are as sexually explicit as the suits!
Modern-day Bathing suits reflect a diversity of swimmers, and have become, to say the least, emblems of human sexuality.