This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer. Isola Bella is the oldest baby and children’s clothing store in Vancouver. We carry a curated assortment of both established and up-and-coming European labels. Many of our collections and pieces cannot be found elsewhere in Canada – please enjoy shopping online or visit our beautiful Kerrisdale boutique. In rivers, lakes, streams and the sea men swam in the nude, where the practice was common.
In the West, in the 19th century women wore a bathing gown in the water. These were loose ankle-length full-sleeve chemise-type gown made of wool or flannel, so that modesty or decency was not threatened. They were long dresses of fabrics that would not become transparent when wet, with weights sewn into the hems so that they would not rise up in the water. The men’s swim suit, a rather form-fitting wool garment with long sleeves and legs similar to long underwear, was developed and would change little for a century.
The July 9, 1945, Life shows women in Paris wearing similar items. Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner tried similar swimwear or beachwear. Pin ups of Hayworth and Esther Williams in the costume were widely distributed. The most provocative swimsuit was the 1946 Moonlight Buoy, a bottom and a top of material that weighed only eight ounces.
Speedo racerback silk suit that uncovered the shoulder blades almost resulted in disqualification of Clare Dennis at the 1932 Olympics, but became a norm by 1936. Meanwhile, men were allowed to swim in bare-chest suits in 1936, and in briefs only at the 1948 Olympics. In the Renaissance, swimming and outdoor bathing were discouraged in the Christian West and there was little need for swimwear. I mean, I think if you have a good pair of dark gray shorts, you could wear a greenish-blue or magenta color. And if you have a beautiful pair of dark gray shorts, you could wear a bright green or yellow.
There are Roman murals which show women playing sports and exercising wearing two-piece suits covering the areas around their breasts and hips in a fashion remarkably similar to the present-day bikini. Tankini and the concept of mix-and-match swimwears were the two major innovations in that genre in the late 1990s. Designer Anne Cole, the US swimwear mogul, was the originator of this style. Aimed at closing a gap in the swimwear market, lifting swimsuit the popularity of tankini largely came from Cole’s tapping into women’s anxieties about swimwear. In the years following its introduction tankinis diversified in style and range, adding other big name designers such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Nautica, and Calvin Klein. In the 19th century, the woman’s double suit was common, comprising a gown from shoulder to knees plus a set of trousers with leggings going down to the ankles.
I always have a pair with a navy blue swim suit, which the designers always wear. For a few years I wore these swimsuits while working in the pool. Not only is they functional, they have a cool twisty feel to them. These shorts and tee are great wear for beach days or even when the beach is totally covered with sand. The first bikinis appeared just after World War II. Early examples were not very different from the women’s two pieces common since the 1920s, except that they had a gap below the breast line allowing for a section of bare midriff. They were named after Bikini Atoll, the site of several nuclear weapons tests, for their supposed explosive effect on the viewer.