From the past, when women were not allowed to bathe on the beach, until now when aquatic sports and activities are for all, the world has progressed a lot. With the evolving world and society, swimwear has undergone many phases of evolution.
From huge bathing gowns to one-piece swimwear, the freedom and comfort in swimsuits, especially for women, have transformed with time. Now, the choices are vast, with thousands of designs and types of swimsuits available for all sizes and ages. The fabrics and design innovations have made swimwear safer, more comfortable, and more attractive.
Let's walk through the history of swimwear and how it has changed over the centuries!
The era of bathing gowns in 1700
Before the 18th century and in the old Victorian days, women bathed in a bathing machine where they couldn't be seen. By the mid-18th century, recreational water activities on the beach were popular. But still, diving into the water was not approved.
With the start of aquatic activities and beach picnics, the need for swimwear emerged. So loose, fitting bathing gowns made from thick fabric like linen were worn. These dresses had small weights sewn at the end to keep the skirt down when the person goes into the water.
19th century and the introduction of bathing suits
By the start of the 19th century, water activities gained popularity, and swimwear underwent many phases of change. Loosely fitted gowns were replaced by bathing suits paired with leggings or long socks for women. These bathing suits were made from thick cotton or wool, so the fabric didn’t float upwards. Also, the colors chosen for these swimsuits were mainly dark shades, so they were not see-through after getting wet.
The drawback of these bathing suits was the heavy fabric used, which weighed down the wearer further after absorbing water. This additional weight was a safety risk and made it quite impractical for aquatic sports and activities.
Soon, modifications started making the women's swimsuit shorter with fitted trousers using lighter fabrics.
1900s, a drastic change in the swimwear
The start of the 20th century marks the substantial adaptations in swimsuits. The swimwear industry became more liberal and fitted. The use of light fabric with revealing designs were introduced, breaking the societal stereotypes restricting women from engaging in aquatic sports.
In the 1912 Olympics, women were allowed for the first time to participate in swimming competitions. It was the start of an era where society didn't disregard women wearing tight swimsuits. Although wearing a one-piece swimwear was not something society could digest instantly, women wore matching stockings with it.
The commercial manufacturing of bathing suits and swimwear started in 1910 by Jaz. Initially, the suits were called woolen club suits which then, by the mid of 20th century, shifted to unisex swimwear consisting of shirts with sleeves and without sleeves; and vests with attached long legs.
Introduction of Bikinis in the mid-20th century
The mid-20th century was the time when swimwear took a drastic evolution. From sleeved and long-leg swimsuits, the swimwear advanced into bikinis for women and shorts for men. This modern swimwear was published in fashion magazines.
The change of fabric from wool to Lycra and nylon gave a beautifully hugging fit to the suit, which didn’t go away after becoming wet. There was a boom in the swimsuit industry: soon everyone was making swimwear in various fabrics, prints, and colors.
The introduction of bikinis made participating in competitive water sports possible for women. However, the design was introduced for glamour in Hollywood but soon became normal for everyone.
Wide variety in swimwear in the 21st century
With the huge technological advancement and innovation in fabrics and designs, swimwear is not a simple piece of clothing now. There is a wide variety of swimming costumes varying in season, style, fit, and functionality.
The modernization in swimwear took the swimsuits to different styles and patterns in bikinis, but this left a void for the ones who wanted to get a modest swimsuit. So in the 21st century, designers took time to cater to that domain. Now whether you need a sizzling one-piece dress or a swimsuit that covers you properly without restricting your motion, you can have it all.
From bikinis to burkinis
Like other clothing items, swimwear has many options. Be it the slimkini for your Jet Ski ride or a burkini to enjoy a beach picnic, you can get it all from COEGA. From stunning bikinis to board shorts and rashguards for men, we are the one-stop shop for all your family swimwear needs.