The Evolution of Swimwear

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It's officially swimwear season so here at Rokit we thought it was only fitting to take a look at the history of our much-loved swimming cozzy!

At the turn of the 19th century the typical "swimming costume" consisted of a heavy, flannel dress over long billowy bloomers. At this time, men and women were expected to engage in sea-bathing separately. To make sure this rule was obeyed Bathing Machines were invented. These little huts were dragged by horse and carriage into the shallow depths of the sea where modest ladies were able to take a dip without the restrictions of the layers of clothes they were expected to wear. However, this didn't stop cheeky, young boys getting out their binoculars and taking a sneaky peek at what was on offer!

By the 20th century, more people were flocking from the city to the seaside to pursue activities such as swimming, surfing and diving, which meant women needed swimwear that was modest but free from such heavy restriction.

As the '20s got into full swing, the swimsuit was reduced to a one-piece garment in a jersey material that covered shorts. However, this new cut still had to abide to the rules - it could be no more than six inches above the knee. Thanks to Coco Chanel's accidental sunburn on a yachting trip one summer, this was also the decade that tanning became fashionable!

The '30s was the decade of the backless swimsuit. Getting a sun-tan had become increasingly popular and this new, skimpy style showcased ample skin. With the beginning of WWII and extreme rationing, there was a shortage in fabric which resulted in a drastic change for swimwear. This was the decade that created our much-loved bikini! French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim were the first to invent the iconic two-piece. Even though the '40s style was far less racy than the ones we see today, Catholic countries such as Spain and Italy banned the style claiming it to be vulgar.

By the '50s, commercial jet planes were available for transport which allowed many people to travel further to more exotic locations. Swimwear sales soared. A combination of fibers and quick dry synthetics modernised the swimsuit and finally made it practical. The '50s also saw a corseted style of swimsuit come into fashion. This swimwear was extremely flattering as it accentuated a small waist and downplayed any parts you wanted to hide. Esther Williams, also known as Hollywood's Mermaid, pioneered this style in her films Dangerous When Wet and Easy to Wed. This decade was all about movie star glamour and actresses such as Marilyn Monroe epitomised the look of the era.

The bikini dominated the '60s. Modesty was out and liberation was in! British and American teens went crazy for the style. Fabrics were innovative and included knits and woven fabrics in quick-drying synthetics. This was the decade that revolutionized the swimwear that we see today. The bikini trend continued into the '70s, an era of women's rights and the decade also saw a new innovation - the tan-through swimsuit. Though this was a predictably short-lived novelty!

By the time the '80s rolled round, swimsuits were made from a mix of curve-hugging nylon and spandex. The trends of the '80s saw a lot of low scoop necks, V-hips and thong style bathing suits. They also came in a wide variety of prints and colours, with neon and animal print being extremely popular!

The '90s featured more athletic cuts and saw the invention of the tankini - a good middle ground for teenagers of the time whose parents were horrified by the revealing bikinis of the '80s.

Nowadays we are spoiled for choice. You could channel Marilyn or Ava in a sweet '50s pin-up style swimsuit or go all-out in daring eighties neon! Whether you're relaxing on the beach in the south of France or inflating the paddling pool in your back garden make sure you're summer-ready in Rokit's swimwear range.