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Bathing suits through the ages

This week I will complete my series about fashion designs through the ages.  I thought I would end on a “high” note—bathing suits.  Since 360 B.C., I don’t think a woman alive likes to try on a bathing suit.  Tall, short, thin, heavy, broad, wide—whatever.  It is no fun to try on a bathing suit.

Public bathing was very popular around 350 B.C. in Greece and ancient Rome, where men and women wore togas as opposed to special bathing clothes.  After this period, water pursuits were not revived until the 18th century when the medicinal properties of spa and sea waters were greatly advocated.  Men bathed naked, while women changed into a flannel shift with long sleeves within the private confines of a horse-drawn hut on wheels that carried them into the sea. Life I’ve said before, I can’t make this stuff up. It was not until bathing became a public activity in the early 19th century that swimwear design became important.

Bathing bloomers became popular.  Corseted, bloomer-style costumes made from serge, a strong, twilled fabric and trimmed with braid were standard wear for women and girls in France and England by the 1860’s were the choice of the day.

By the 1920’s the suits became a second skin.  These 1920’s tubular wool costumes clung to the body and were thought very revealing at the time.  The bold geometric designs reflected the fashion of the middle of the decade.

The “itsy-bitsy, teeny, weeny bikini first arrived in 1946.  By 1950 the suits became bones and frills. The bust was boned and the back was ruched, or gathered with elastic and the short skirt had rows of frills.

The string bikini came along in the 1970’s.  The name tells you there isn’t much to a bikini.  Many would also say that the decline of America came about the same time.  Frankly, I think they had a point.

I would love to get back to American as apple pie again.  Is it possible or am I just dreaming?  I guess we will just have to wait and see!

About Sally Cowan (39 Articles)
After Keeping You in Stitches for over 45 years, Sally enjoys her memories of events that happened on her way to retirement. Author of 6 books, lectures, teaching, and TV host on PBS and now has time for her many cats and Snuggles, the dog. She also loves playing trumpet in the Anastasia Baptist Church orchestra.

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