Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bathing suits

With Memorial Day impending, the warming of the seasons suggests a relaxed state of mind and fun in the sun!  Every day I look forward to researching seasonal fashion and how it’s changed throughout the centuries – today we dissect thebathing suit and its slow but sure evolution to swim wear.  With water occupying 70% of this beautiful earth, it’s no wondering our need for swim wear would reach a $13 billion dollar industry.   The birth of swim wear has transcended generational gaps and has taken on many different shapes and materials.
In the early 1900s, many American Cities created laws that required all women in bathing suits to wear stockings.
Modesty laws were very strict in the early 1900s.  In 1919, a woman was detained at Coney Island for wearing a bathing suit in public – under her street clothes.
Topless men were banned from the beaches of Atlantic City in New Jersey because the city didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” It wasn’t until 1937 when men finally won the right to wear just swimming shorts without a shirt.
In its early stages, designs for both men and women were modest and simple.  Before the retrieval of synthetic materials, wool or flannel was the fabric of choice.  Over time its function would permit more than seaside bathing… the refreshing element of water and societal change encouraged new and exciting water sports – surfing, swimming, water polo, water skiing, scuba diving and wake boarding. 
The bikini is named after the islands in the Bikini Atoll in the North Pacific's Marshall Islands where the U.S. tested the atomic bomb in 1946. Both the tiny swimsuit and the bomb had an explosive influence on American culture.
Sex symbol Diana Dors appeared at the 1955 Venice Film Festival in a mink bikini.
When the Barbie doll debuted on March 9, 1959, her first outfit was a black-and-white striped swimsuit.
The last time Marilyn Monroe appeared in a bikini on screen was in the 1962 film Something's Got to Give

I hope you've enjoyed my brief but scholarly thesis on swim wear and wish you an unbelievable summer. Whether you choose the comforts of your community pool or bummin beachside at Bikini Atoll, remember, as of 2005 thongs are illegal in Melbourne Florida.  Take care everyone and have a wonderful Memorial weekend!
Images provided and

All the best,
Mark Nava, VP JNava

1 comment:

  1. LOL @ the thongs! I wish New York was like that... My eyes are burning, and summer's not even official yet. At least, not in the fluctuating weather part.

    I love this post. I never really thought about the bathing suit as a history, reminds me of what I learned about jeans. I am now inspired to do a history on jeans. ;) Starting with Brando.

    I prefer the bathing suits made of wool in the 4th, from the bottom, picture. I refuse to show my tummy, and those are the only things that I think look good, without showing too much skin.

    Don't forget each year, the bikinis get skimpier and skimpier. It's horrifying what the next few years might bring. I swear I belong in the 50s.