Despite opposition from some groups, the form-fitting style proved popular. In many countries, young girls and sometimes women choose not to wear a swimsuit top, and this can vary with the occasion, location, age, etc.
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Brief and boxer suits cover most, if not all the fanny. History of swimwear traces the changes in the styles of men's and women's swimwear over time and between cultures, and touches on the social, religious and legal attitudes to swimming and swimwear. In classical antiquity and in most cultures, swimming was either in the nude or the swimmer would merely strip to their underwear.
In the Middle Ages , swimming was strongly discouraged, and into the 18th century swimming was regarded as of doubtful morality, and had to be justified on health grounds.
In the Victorian era swimwear was of a style of outer clothing of the time, which were cumbersome and even dangerous in the water, especially in the case of dress-style swimwear for women. Since the early 20th century, swimming came to be regarded as a legitimate leisure activity or pastime and clothing made specifically for swimming became the norm.
Since then, swimwear has become increasingly more scanty and form-fitting, despite the objections of conservative elements in the community and moral campaigners, and the use of hi-tech materials has become more common. In classical antiquity swimming and bathing were done naked. 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.
However, there is no evidence that they were used for swimming. All classical pictures of swimming show nude swimmers. In various cultural traditions one swims, if not in the nude, in a version in suitable material of a garment or undergarment commonly worn on land, e. In the Middle Ages , swimming and outdoor bathing were discouraged in the Christian West and there was little need for a bathing or swimming costume [ citation needed ].
Female bathing costumes were derived from those worn at Bath and other spas. It would appear that until the s nude female bathing in the spas was the norm and that after that time women bathed clothed.
Celia Fiennes gave a detailed description of the standard ladies' bathing costume in The Gentlemen have drawers and wastcoates of the same sort of canvas, this is the best linning, for the bath water will Change any other yellow. The bathing gown in the 18th century was a loose ankle-length full-sleeve chemise -type gown made of wool or flannel, so that modesty or decency was not threatened.
In the United Kingdom until the midth century there was no law against nude swimming, and each town was free to make its own laws. For example, the Bath Corporation official bathing dress code of prescribed, for men:. It is Ordered Established and Decreed by this Corporation that no Male person above the age of ten years shall at any time hereafter go into any Bath or Baths within this City by day or by night without a Pair of Drawers and a Waistcoat on their bodies.
In rivers, lakes, streams and the sea men swam in the nude, where the practice was common. Those who did not swim in the nude, stripped to their underwear. No Female person shall at any time hereafter go into a Bath or Baths within this City by day or by night without a decent Shift on their bodies.
The ladies wear jackets and petticoats of brown linen, with chip hats, in which they fix their handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from their faces; but, truly, whether it is owing to the steam that surrounds them, or the heat of the water, or the nature of the dress, or to all these causes together, they look so flushed, and so frightful, that I always turn my eyes another way.
The English practice of men swimming in the nude was banned in the United Kingdom in Drawers, or caleçons as they were called, came into use in the s. Even then there were many who protested against them and wanted to remain in the nude.
Francis Kilvert described men's bathing suits coming into use in the s as "a pair of very short red and white striped drawers". In the first half of the 19th century the top became knee-length while an ankle-length drawer was added as a bottom. By the second half of the 19th century, in France, the sleeves started to vanish, the bottom became shorter to reach only the knees and the top became hip-length and both became more form fitting.
Penelope Byrde points out that Smollett's description may not be accurate, for he describes a two-piece costume, not the one piece shift or smock that most people describe and is depicted in contemporary prints. His description does, however, tally with Elizabeth Grant's description of the guide's costume at Ramsgate in The only difference is in the fabric the costumes are made of.
Flannel, however, was a common fabric for sea bathing costumes as many believed the warmer fabric was necessary in cold water. 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.
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. 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. In the Victorian era , Western cultures deplored nudity of any degree, and people took great pains to cover themselves, even bare chested male swimmers at ocean beaches.
In the United States, beauty pageants of women in bathing costumes became popular from the s. However, such events were not regarded as respectable. Beauty contests became more respectable with the first modern " Miss America " contest held in , though less respectable beauty contests continued to be held. Cartoon by George du Maurier in Punch , , showing men's and children's bathing suits. In , the swimmer Annette Kellerman from Australia visited the United States as an "underwater ballerina", a version of synchronised swimming involving diving into glass tanks.
She was arrested on a Boston beach for indecent exposure because her swimsuit showed arms, legs and the neck, a costume she adopted from England,  and which was similar to men's swimsuits of the time. Kellerman changed the suit to have long arms and legs and a collar, still keeping the close fit that revealed the shapes underneath.
Kellerman marketed a line of bathing suits and her style of one-piece suits came to be known as "the Annette Kellerman". The one-piece swimming tights became accepted swimsuit attire for women in parts of Europe by Despite opposition from some groups, the form-fitting style proved popular.
It was not long before swimwear started to shrink further. At first arms were exposed and then legs up to mid-thigh. Necklines receded from around the neck down to around the top of the bosom.
The development of new fabrics allowed for new varieties of more comfortable and practical swimwear. Female swimming was introduced at the Summer Olympics. Competitors from 17 countries took part, with women from nine countries wearing swimsuits similar to Kellerman's swimsuit, which were similar to swimsuits worn by the male swimmers. In , inspired by the breakthrough, the designer Carl Jantzen made the first functional two-piece swimwear, a close-fitting one-piece with shorts on the bottom and short sleeves on top.
The name "swim suit" was coined in by Jantzen Knitting Mills, a sweater manufacturer who launched a swimwear brand named the Red Diving Girl. Public nudity was a major concern in designing early swimwear. It was a major factor behind the non-participation of American women in the Olympics. The suits were complemented by bras and bikini -style briefs as they became transparent when wet. Women's coaches were rare at early Olympics, and to further reduce the chances of harassment women were accompanied by chaperones.
During the s and s, people began to shift from "taking in the water" to "taking in the sun", at bathhouses and spas, and swimsuit designs shifted from functional considerations to incorporate more decorative features. Rayon was used in the s in the manufacture of tight-fitting swimsuits,  but its durability, especially when wet, proved problematic,  with jersey and silk also sometimes being used. Burlesque and vaudeville performers wore two-piece outfits in the s. The film Man with a Movie Camera shows Russian women wearing early two-piece swimsuits which expose their midriff, and a few who are topless.
Films of holidaymakers in Germany in the s show women wearing two-piece suits,  In , Speedo introduced their racerback silk suit that was optimized to fit the body shape. By the s men began to go without shirts for swimming,  and barechestedness in male swimwear became the norm by the end of the s, including in competitive swimming events, in which men are not only barechested, but wear a swimming suit that is intended merely to meet public decency requirements.
The norm of male barechestedness in swimwear extended to other competitive sports, such as professional boxing and professional wrestling.
By the s, necklines plunged at the back, sleeves disappeared and sides were cut away and tightened. With the development of new clothing materials, particularly latex and nylon , through the s swimsuits gradually began hugging the body, with shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning. Coco Chanel made suntans fashionable,  and in French designer Madeleine Vionnet offered an exposed midriff in an evening gown. They were seen a year later in Gold Diggers of
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