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2019.07.22 - Extraordinary swimsuits back then and now

Extraordinary swimsuits back then and now

Fashion is a fastidous field, within that the fashion of swimsuits is even more fastidous. The story of swimsuits is not else than the scandals of swimsuits. Our culture has a controvertial relationship with nudity, and it forbids and supports it at the same time, this is why it is easy to cross the border between forbidden and permissible which is difficult to outline.


The fashion of swimsuits primary circle around women’s swimwear. Among the questions -admit it- there are some absolutely pointless ones, even if the yearly trends are all about these: color, if the bra is hold by a hook or a bow, if it’s figured or flat, if it covers less or more, if it’s sporty or ladylike. These details only change from year to year to make you believe that your piece from 5 years ago is not trendy anymore, and make you buy another one thus keeping the market going. However, these changes are usually not bold enough to call them a revolution. People usually want two opposite things: being unique while not standing out, another controversy...

How much should it cover?

The releasing of real swimwear revolutions usually came with some type of scandal. It is strange to circle around the fact that about 200 years ago going to the beach was a huge taboo, and even if you went beachwear was a real dress from neck to ankle. Even a 100 years ago showing too much leg, arm and especially other curves were considered a crime.

The first huge scandal connects to the name of Anette Kellerman who was an Australian swimmer and a famous actress who was arrested in Boston in 1907 since she desinged a swimsuit which despite of covering everything was too glairy which was not acceptable at that time. Afterall Kellerman generated a real revolution, which made showing your knee and your arm acceptable even if it took a lot of time, however, showing your belly was still out of the question. 


The next big scandal broke out in 1946 and it obviously connects to the appearing of bikini. They were designed by Louis Reard who worked very hard to make conservative people accept his creation. He only succeded slowly by the end of the 60’s with the help of the advertisement campaigns with Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. The next big step was uncovering the navel. In the end even Dior took part in designing. This is how bikini transformed from scandalous to fashionable.


As it usually is by the time the scandal of the bikini petered out and the consevative generation relented another scandal started. This was about the monokini, when women don’t wear any bra. In 1964 Rudi Gernreich showed the world this new design which he named monokini. In the Vatikan even the Pope bent his brows over this. It was forbidden in most beaches in the United States, and the ones who decided to wear it anyway had to pay a fine up to 100 dollars. Interesting fact that the next scandal connects to the American Gernreich once again who designed thong ten years after the designing of monokini in 1974 replying to the decision of the city council of Los Angeles which forbade naked sunbathing. If you need to cover, then cover just a little. Both thong and monokini were created by using epaulets which seemed unnecessary. Thong was popular among men back in the days but its popularity faded. The purpose of this clothing was to show taut, sporty bottoms but obviously it was not worn only by fitness champions, this is what made the half of the world learn the name of a new syndrome called cellulite. 


What is it made of?

In connection with swimwear besides the covering surface, the material is an important aspect too. Naturally many materials were put to the test in the last 100 years, however, the main breakthough was archieved with elastic materials. The bikinis of the 50’s were relatively solid. The pointy stiffer braiselles pushed the breasts up which was exciting for many, but it did not show the truth. In 1960 the elastic material called lycra was created thus the first elastic swimwears were made. In the 60’s besides the hippie movement the triangle shaped tieable bras became fashionable which made hidden shapes visible. 

The new swimdress called sharkdress did not cause scandals on the beach but in the sport world. In 2008 more than a 100 world records were born in swimming and the outstanding performances were explained by the new swimsuit made by Speedo. The sharkdress was designed by an Australian company with the help of engineers from NASA. It is made of polyurethane and there are no seams on it, the parts were inosculated with welding, thus it’s perfectly streamlined. The most important advantages of the dress are the fact that it helps in keeping the right swimming posture, and it reduces the vibration of muscles and skin. Time results can be beefed up by 2-5 percent. After a short time everybody swam in these new dresses so its wearing became pointless thus the covenant forbade it.


Inflatable swimsuit?

In 1992 Cole of California’s designed a new bikini model called Top Secret. It had two air chambers built in the breast part originally to regulate the breast size of women: it could be inflated by a pump. Newsweek and Time wrote about this on their main pages, Time was very critical which could have caused the unsuccess of the product. However, the swimwear proved to be very comfortable and it can be used during teaching swimming. Small companies (usually for order) make inflatable bikinis which can be inflated or deflated even in the water according to the will of the user. 

Air chambers hidden in the swimsuit have other reasons than aesthetical ones. Many companies experimented with swimsuits which worked as swimming vests at the same time. Swimming (especially in natural waters) is very dangerous for the ones who can’t swim but the ones who can are in danger too. This kind of swimwear prevents you from sinking which can save your life, but it can be helpful for those who are learning swimming and feel uncomfortable in water. There are three types: one with stiff walls and two with inflatable walls one of which is inflated with a pump and the other one is inflated by gas cartridges.