As the term suggests, "women’s swimwear" are garments worn by women for any water-sports activity such as swimming, beach or sun bathing, water skiing and diving among others. Beautiful models showing off their well-toned bodies that cling so very deliciously to designer swimsuits, have the ability to add glamour and oomph to any fashion magazine and therefore adding popularity to women’s swimsuits. Swimwear parades become one of the main events in all the beauty pageants around the world including Miss World and Miss Universe contests.
It is indeed surprising then, that in Roman times swimming happened in the nude and historical evidence points to the fact that people swam naked. While there are murals that prove the existence of bikini-like garments which covered women’s breasts and hip areas, it is clearly evident from some famous paintings that water-based activities occurred with naked swimmers. Today there is a law in the United Kingdom and most other countries banning entry of both men and women into any form of public water bath or swimming pool without decent bathing suits that cover the pertinent areas.
In the 18th century, bathing suits for women comprised of petticoats and jackets made with brown linen or flannel. These costumes were uncomfortable in addition to being unflattering in appearance. In an effort to maintain the woman’s dignity, a culture reflecting the times, there were weights stitched to the hems to prevent the rising of the gowns when in water. By the 19th century, two-piece women’s swimwear and bathing suits became common.
In the US, women’s swimwear round as part of the beauty contests began by the 1880s. However these were treated with disdain and disrespect till 1921 when beauty contests themselves took on a hue of respectability. In Australia underwater ballerinas performing synchronized swimming were not allowed to perform unless they were clothed in a respectable manner. Glamour photography from 1940s included women wearing figure-hugging bathing suits and swimwear.
Bikinis initially came on to the scene after World War II and were named after Bikini Toll, the test site for nuclear weapons because the bikini was seen to be as explosive in water as was the effect of nuclear explosions!! Till the 1950s, the bikini bottom was designed to cover the navel and this style was popular back in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1960 bikinis shrank from all directions to reach its modern-day state until 2012, when the high waisted cut in women’s swimwear came back. The key to this design is in its ability to flatter most female figures including plus size and this fact makes every woman happy.
Another women’s swimwear called monokini which was originally a topless swimming costume that exposed a female breast; in modern designs, the garment has large cut-outs at both side front and back. This new design has become popular among young girls.
The tankini is a two-piece swimsuit which includes a tank top or halter top and a bikini or swim shorts bottom. The design started in late 1990s. This type of swimwear is considered modest and it is an alternative to a one-piece bathers with the convenience of a two-piece suit, as the wearer does not need to remove the entire suit when she uses a toilet, skirtini is similar to tankini, the only difference is that the two-piece swimsuit consisting of a styled top (halter, tank…) and a short skirt instead of a bikini bottom.
Swim dress is a one-piece swimwear with the addition of a flared skirt which gives the suit the appearance of a dress, usually, the skirt starting under the empire waist and flared down to the hem. With the new modern designs in late 1990s, swim dresses become popular among women especially plus size women who prefer the additional coverage.