Bloomers and Black Stockings
Back in the day, and by the ‘day’ we mean the mid-to-late 19th century, bathers had to cover up just about everything. For women, this meant donning bloomers and black stockings with drawers. With the dawn of the 20th century, exposing flesh on the arms was eventually allowed. The cumbersome and multiple layers started coming off from there.
Athletic Tank Suits
In the 1920s, one-piece athletic tank suits became fashionable, and allowed the people wearing them to actually swim for a change, rather than just floundering around in the water like a dying seal. These body-hugging wool suits revealed a lot more skin than the swimwear that had come before. You could actually see people’s arms and legs! Imagine the scandal along the shore.
Corset One-Piece Swimsuits
In the mid-20th century, one-piece corset type swimsuits became all the rage. Women weren’t really buying traditional corsets anymore, but since they were now allowed to wear more revealing swimsuits, the corset manufactures turned their skills to making bathing suits that helped women hide the imperfections they wanted to hide, while accentuating the lines and curves they wanted to show off.
The two-piece Frankies Bikini changed everything. It first appeared in France in 1947, and caused quite a sensation, and a lot of controversy. The swimsuit was modeled after an Ancient Greek suit, which women wore when competing in sports. The inventor of the modern bikini, Louis Réard, named his suit for a Pacific atoll where the first atomic bombs were tested. He knew his swimwear would ‘explode’ onto the fashion scene, as the bikinis most certainly did.