The concept of fashion has shaken societies foundation from the moment humans began wearing clothes. Today’s generation laughs at the style that came before them, and the previous generation is appalled by the clothing of today. With every new fashion cycle, and every new runway show, there is always one item that manages to stir up some controversy; the swimsuit. The swimsuit has seen some drastic changes throughout the years and has evolved from a simple cover up, to a intense fashion statement when hitting the beach. To study the history of this garment we must reach far back into our ancient ancestors past.
The first appearance of the swimsuit was around 350 B.C in ancient Greece. ...view middle of the document...
(“Vintage Fashion Guild : Fashion History : Swimwear History,” n.d.) Swimwear underwent a dry spell after this and saw a reemergence in the early 18th century.
In the 1700’s the ‘spa’ started appearing in european cultures. These bath houses were similar to those of the roman period, however some segregated men and women. The first swimsuits of this era are far different from those of today’s society. Portraits show women completely covered from head to toe with only their hands and face exposed. It was common practice for women to keep their skin as light as porcelain looking as possible.(“Vintage Fashion Guild : Fashion History : Swim Wear History,” n.d.)
As you can see by the portrait above, modesty came before fashion. As time continues the act of bathing became more and more common, and we see a gradual change in the costume as well.
By the 1800’s bathing had become recreational again rather than its previous therapeutic use. Around mid century a revolution in swimwear exploded as young men and women flocked to beaches around the world. Technology was advancing, especially in the railway industry, and this made beaches more accessible. With more and more time being spent in the water it was obvious that a swimsuit that was modest, yet easier to move in was a necessity. (“Women’s Swim Wear History,” n.d.)(“Detail of collections 1900s | KCI Digital Archives,” n.d.)
These suits were tight fitting around the waist and usually consisted of black footed tights and a pair of bloomers (“Women’s Swim Wear History,” n.d.). Typically these suits were made out of a lighter wool fabric. Imagine be required to wear stockings or tights while swimming. Just the thought of it sounds unbearable. Of course these bathing suits were the ultimate cover ups when dry, but once the wool fabric was wet it clung to the body leaving little to...