printed bathing suits often with little over skirts to hide the thighs gradually
replaced the ugly 20's fashion. The 20's suit which sometimes sported cutout
sections in the midriff panel disappeared as it evolved into a two piece
garment. By this era most of us would recognise the late 1930's swimsuits as one
that bears some relationship to swimwear of today. The swimming costumes
shown left were made of lastex and the styles would not look too ridiculous when
Hollywood stars also added
glamour to the swimsuit so that bathers needed to consider having one in the
latest fashion. Esther Williams and Dorothy Lamour along with films featuring
synchronised aqua swimming whipped up interest in figure hugging costumes with
higher cut legs and which revealed every body contour. Right 1931
playsuit for the beach.
In the 1940s, corset
manufacturers saw a gap in the market. Corsetry was losing ground, but the new
more revealing swim suits really needed experts to design garments that hid
faults in a woman's shape. They achieved this by adding stretch tummy control panels to
hold in the stomach. Manufacturers also used bra cups and boning to give bust
support. Costume could then be worn either strapless or with small straps that
buttoned onto the inside.
still continued to wear all in one swimsuits in the 1950s. They also took
great care to cover up their hairstyles with a swimming cap or bathing cap,
usually holding their head well out of the water when swimming. The
swimming caps shown right were decorated with plastic petals or leaves to make
them appear prettier than a bald fitting bathing cap.
The bikini was still
thought of as risqué and best suited to film stars and exotic dancers.
Right - Corset
like swimsuit 1950-60.
A wide range
of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched waffle
nylon was popular for a while. Zips were still used in the centre back of
swimsuits retaining the corset like appearance until the early 1960s.
By the mid 1960s,
fabrics were mainly nylon or Lycra or a mix of the two materials. The all
important factor was stretch and pull on like a pair of panties.
The front panel of the garment
and crotch were both cut as one. Other variations include little pleated or
flared over skirts with the idea of covering saddle bag thighs.
By the late sixties swimsuits had revealing side mesh
net panels or cut out midriffs filled in with see through plastic rings.
Right -1960's swimsuit with plastic rings and mesh midriff.
The swimsuit did its best to keep up with competition
from the two piece bikini by abbreviating it even further by cutting the
legs higher as well as straight across. What is now thought of as
high leg is much higher than the high leg of 1970 over 30 years ago and
the phrase 'low leg' is now used to name the sixties high cut leg.
Many women still
prefer a swimsuit for the beach, but especially like it for swimming. Some body
shapes, especially the thicker waisted simply look better in a one piece
than a two piece costume. But even those with good and slimmer figures sometimes
just look much better in a one piece and many say they find a one piece more
As the years have gone
on it has become possible to buy swimwear in a wide range of cup sizes. One of
the best brands for giving a good shape to the fuller body is Gottex swimwear.
They use individual cup sizes, and stretch control tummy panels combined with clever
cutting to create a good silhouette. Expect to pay over £80 for a Gottex
Don't be afraid to
wear what you feel most comfortable in and remember to take a matching cover up
sarong or big shirt or wrap over skirt so you can feel totally at ease walking
that hundred yards to the ice cream kiosk!
Bikinis were seen in Crete
thousands of years ago. After that pictorial evidence of 200 A.D., suggests that
bikini clad women were cavorting in Sicily's Piazza Armerina.
The modern version was patented by Louis Reard in
1946. His design was more akin to the skimpy string 1970's bikinis. Bikinis made
news then and as versions have become skimpier they have always attracted
attention. When the Bikini was named its impact was likened to the test atomic
explosion on Bikini atoll. Right - Cotton batik bikini worn by a teenager -
But its impact was nothing as radical as the G-string or even more
revealing - the thong also called the Brazilian tanga. The tanga was worn more and more often
in Europe and America in the 1980s and became very usual by the 1990s among the
young. With it came a boon in pubic waxing and the Brazilian wax.
Now in 2006 many women have taken this a step further opting for laser
hair removal, which over the required sessions becomes permanently
The introduction of Lycra initially promoted in the UK by Marks & Spencer has meant
that Bikinis are
flexible and mould to the body contour giving a better fit. Legs are cut higher
now than ever before and frequently expose both bottom cheeks. Some garments are
now so brief that women remain totally covered up by an oversized shirt or T-shirt
or sarong wrap, removing it only for a timed sunbathing session.
Speedo developed the Fastskin FS-PRO high performance
swimsuit and made it available in 2007. In 2007 it was their lightest
and fastest swimsuit. Swimming athletes comments were used to develop
swimwear with the idea of producing champion swimmers. The Speedo
Aqualab Fastskin FS-PRO suit has low passive drag. This means athletes
swim faster in the water. The suit has a low absorption rate and it
feels really light to the competitive swimmer. Unlike the average
fashion swimsuit, this is a sleeveless all body suit from ankle to neck
with only the arms free. It is mainly used in competition swimming as it
is very costly. Some argue it is unfair to financially poorer swimmers
since it needs money to buy one, so favours the wealthier swimmer and
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