History of Swimsuits

Friends in Retro Swimwear With Inner tubes
Peter M. Fisher / Getty Images

The first swimsuits were, of course, no swimsuits at all. People have always gone swimming in the nude or in any clothing appropriate for swimming such as loincloths. It was not until the 18th century that "swimsuits" were invented mostly for the purpose of hiding the human body according to the morality of the times.

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Swimsuits 1855

Swimsuits Consisted of Bloomers and Black Stockings

Around 1855, swimsuits consisted of bloomers and black stockings while drawers were added to prevent the problem of exposure.

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Swimsuits Circa 1915 to 1930

Group of people, in swimsuits, standing on beach

Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The photo above depicts a group of people, in swimsuits, standing on a beach and was taken between 1915 and 1930. You can see how the women's bathing suit (in the middle) has evolved from the previous one—the arms are now exposed and black is no longer the color. The woman on the right and the men are wearing the newer tank suits that developed during the 1920s.

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Swimsuits 1922

New York beauties at Atlantic City carnival

Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain 

Four young women wearing bathing suits notice the lowering of the necklines.

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Bikini Swimsuit 1946 - Jacques Heim and Louis Reard

Young model Shirley Kephart poses in a spotted bikini, 16th January 1948

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The bikini was reinvented in 1946 by Jacques Heim and Louis Réard.

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Slimsuit Swimsuit Patent 1990 - Carol Wior

Patent Drawing: Carol Wior Slimsuit - US Patent #RE33406


Most swimsuits are not patented as they fall under copyright law. However, there are patents that have been issued for innovative swimsuits. Carol Wior patented the Slimsuit, a women's swimsuit that was guaranteed to take an inch or more off the waist or tummy and look natural.

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Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "History of Swimsuits." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/history-of-swimsuits-1992446. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 29). History of Swimsuits. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-swimsuits-1992446 Bellis, Mary. "History of Swimsuits." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-swimsuits-1992446 (accessed October 26, 2021).