Do you prefer a one-piece or a bikini? Whatever your choice, history has provided a variety of bathing suit styles for today’s current era, in ways we might have never imagined. According to the research firm Global Industry Analysts, last year an estimated $17.6 billion was made in swimwear transactions. I suppose the only question is why women of all ages and shapes flock to purchase such a minimal piece of clothing? Despite the era, how people choose to clothe themselves for a summer afternoon at the pool has a historic contribution to style today.
During the 1800s, the phrase “bathing suit” came into existence from historic mosaics of Roman Empire where women wore bandeau bikinis to public baths. These baths were a social gathering during Roman times.Æa place to meet and discuss political ideas.
From bathing to swimming, an organized sporting activity emerged in the 19th century and became an Olympic sport by 1904, while women weren’t allowed to compete until 1912. As the sport evolved, so did the outfits worn for it. New designs and new fibers emerged to tackle a number of challenges including freedom of movement and the contemporary ideals of modesty. The skin that was displayed evolved from a mere glimpse of an ankle in the 19th century to the arm-baring suit favored by Australian competitive swimmer, Annette Kellerman, in the early 20th century who stated, “I want to swim. And I can’t swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothesline.” As a result of that statement, she was arrested for indecency in 1907 for sporting a midriff-baring bikini.