School is out and it is officially summer break time for most of us! Along with that, especially here in Florida, comes many days of lounging by the pool, trips to the beach, and backyard barbeques with friends. It’s swimsuit season. While searching for the right swimsuit this year, I thought about the way fashion in swimwear has dramatically changed over the years, with one constant trend—show more.
Years ago when the first bathing suits appeared, they were an alternative to daily clothing, but something that could get wet because of its permitting material. The suits were obviously more revealing than wearing pants and a shirt, naturally, but not by much. The goal clearly was not to show off what you’ve got or be sexy.
In 1910 this was the fashion. Harper’s Bazaar wrote, “Bathing suits are famous for their perfect fit…” This was the beauty standard: curves and accentuating one’s real figure.
Above is a perfect visual of the way things have been changing over the last couple of centuries. What started as a way of being confortable in the water without ruining clothes has turned into a competition of showing off your body—as much of it as possible.
The first bikini was donned in 1946 after Louis Reard and Jacques Heim introduced it in Paris. Otherwise, the 1940s were famous for the halter-top bating suits with the form fitting corset-style. They were more revealing than the popular backless one-pieces of the 1930s; gradually showing more skin as the decades passed.
One of the first bikinis to debut
Even though this is a bikini, back then it still covered quite a bit more than the modern bikinis do today. The bottoms go up a bit higher than her natural waistline, and the top is covering her breasts.
In the 50s, one-pieces were still the most popular choice, but now women were beginning to prefer showing more skin with the two-pieces. On the left is an example of what one may call a tankini today: the shorts are modest and the top is quite conservative going by today’s standards. During this time, bikinis or two-pieces were chosen mainly because they allowed women to feel confident and attractive, revealing a new standard of sexy.
The 1960s were really a turning point in swimsuit history. Modesty was no longer the default choice, and showing the majority of one’s body was the way to go.
The 70s and 80s were fraught with high-waisted or high cut bottoms—a trend we are experiencing again now! The vintage look of the 50s, with the corset, formfitting suits, is also back in mainstream fashion today. I absolutely love these looks!
Fast forward a couple decades and here we are:
Most of the fashion blogs, the runway shows, and all of the models we see are no less covered up than when wearing just undergarments. I think it’s interesting to note that along with the progression of time, there has been an obvious progression of women’s fashion toward showing more of your body to be considered sexy or in-keep with the day’s fashions.
I love finding pieces that are unique, which go against the grain, shall we say. I’m happy to see a popular interest in these suits as well. It just proves that being beautiful or sexy doesn’t have to equate with tiny bikinis.
Women shouldn’t have to feel obligated to show everything off just to fit in with the year’s trends. Swimsuit season shouldn’t be a stressful time spent worrying about whether one’s body will be good enough for a barely covering bikini.
I’m all for embracing your body and loving who you are; don’t embrace the all too popular mindset that beauty is showing off as much as you can, just because the world may tell you so.
About the Author:
Emily is a dual-degree seeking student in psychology and communication disorders, with minors in biomedical sciences and nonprofit management. Emily plans on getting her master’s degree in neuroscience then going to medical school. Emily wants to become a doctor of neurology, specializing in disorders affecting communication.