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Swimsuit

American 1920s woman’s bathing suit

It’s not that there would be too much to be surprised. After all, from its dawn to the present, the swimsuit has been through so many things. However, it seems that its history is not so millennial.

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. But there is no evidence that they were used for swimming. All classical pictures of swimming show nude swimmers.

Roman girls in “bikinis” –
from the Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily (c. 320-370)
Ladies’ and Children’s Bathing Suits – Harper’s Bazaar (15 July 1876)

It would appear that until the 1670s nude female bathing in the spas was the norm and that after that time women bathed clothed. In the United Kingdom until the mid-19th century there was no law against nude swimming, and each town was free to make its own laws. The practice was banned in 1860, and there were many who protested against the new Drawers — or caleçons as they were called — imposed by the law, and wanted to remain in the nude.

Since then, apart from a dizzying shrinkage — often much more scandalous and provocative than the nudity itself —, and some sophisticated weaves that are imprinted on the skin thanks to the tan, things have not evolved much, and humanity has seen things like the Borat mankini or similar. And today, the uncertainty and a strange silence around the new pandemic suggest everything, even the possibility of a trikini with anti-virus mask.

La Vie Parisienne (1918) – France Georges Leonnec
A group of women in London walk down the street in the latest beachwear fashions (1946) – Keystone-France / Getty Images
A pair of women model the latest style of swimming hat (1954) – Charles Hewitt / Getty Images
Modern Tanlines
Sacha Baron Cohen as “Borat” at the Cannes Beach in Cannes, France (2006) – Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage
Borat Swimsuit – Beloved Shirts
Hairy Summer – Beloved Shirts
Triquini 2020

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