A one-piece swimsuit most commonly refers to swimwear worn primarily by women and girls when swimming in the sea or in a swimming pool, playing water polo, or for any activity in the sun, such as sun bathing. Today, the one-piece swimsuit is usually a skin-tight garment that covers the torso, except maybe the back or upper chest.
Before the popularity of the two-piece swimsuit, and then the bikini, virtually all women's swimwear completely covered at least the wearer's torso, and men also wore similar swimsuits. While the bikini has increasingly found popular acceptance since the 1960s, the one-piece swimsuit has maintained a place on beaches to this day.
The most common type of one-piece suit is the maillot (a term that is not generally used anymore) or tank suit, which resembles a sleeveless leotard or bodysuit. There are variants of the one-piece swimsuit, including halterneck styles and plunge front swimsuits, as well as wrap-round ("surplice") and bandeau styles. The pretzel suit is another style of the one-piece swimsuit. Recently, athletic swimsuits have used a variety of new shoulder strap styles, including the racerback, fastback, and flyback styles, some of which have also been used on other athletic wear. Another recent innovation in one-piece swimsuits is the bodyskin, which superficially resembles a unitard or wetsuit. Although these cover the entire torso, arms, and legs, their function is not modesty but reducing friction through the water for professional swimmers. Their surfaces are made of textured technical fabrics which are engineered to cut through the water in the same way as fish or sharkskin.
The modern one-piece swimsuit made its appearance in the mid-1900s, when the style was widely described as a maillot. Its widespread acceptance is attributed to Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman, who attracted further attention to the style when, in 1907, 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. The arrest prompted a wide public outrage which added to the acceptance of the style. Kellerman marketed these bathing suits and the style came to be known as "the Annette Kellerman". The one-piece swimsuit became accepted swimsuit attire for women in parts of Europe by 1910, and other places, and was the authorised attire for women's swimming at the 1912 Summer Olympics, the first at which women competed.
Harper's Bazaar praised the Kellerman swimsuit, writing in June 1920 (vol. 55, no. 6, p. 138): "Annette Kellerman Bathing Attire is distinguished by an incomparable, daring beauty of fit that always remains refined." The following year, in June 1921 (vol. 54, no. 2504, p. 101), it wrote that these bathing suits were "famous ... for their perfect fit and exquisite, plastic beauty of line". In the United States, beauty pageants of women in bathing costumes became popular from the 1880s. However, such events were not regarded as respectable. Beauty contests became more respectable with the first modern "Miss America" contest held in 1921, though less respectable beauty contests continued to be held. Nevertheless, the Annette Kellerman continued to be considered by some as the most offensive style of swimsuit in the 1920s and became the focus of censorship efforts. Even in 1943, pictures of the Kellerman swimsuit were produced as evidence of indecency in Esquire v. Walker, Postmaster General.
During the 1920s and 1930s, 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 1920s in the manufacture of tight-fitting swimsuits,but its durability, especially when wet, proved problematic, with jersey and silk also sometimes being used.
By the 1930s, the necklines of women's swimwear 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 1930s, swimsuits gradually began hugging the body, with shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.Since the 1960s, the bikini has increasingly found popular acceptance, though the one-piece swimsuit has maintained a place on beaches to this day. Heim's two-piece has fallen out of fashion.
A bikini is a women's two-piece swimsuit featuring two triangles of fabric on top that cover the woman's breasts, and two triangles of fabric on the bottom: the front covering the pelvis but exposing the navel, and the back covering the buttocks. The size of the top and bottom can vary, from bikinis that offer full coverage of the breasts, pelvis, and buttocks, to more revealing designs with a thong or G-string bottom that covers only the mons pubis, but exposes the buttocks, and a top that covers little more than the areolae.
A skin-tight garment is a garment that is held to the skin usually by elastic tension using some type of stretch fabric. Commercial stretch fabrics ('elastomerics') such as spandex or elastane came onto the market in 1962, and revolutionized many areas of the clothing industry. A wide variety of clothing may be made to be skin-tight, and it is common for clothing to be skin-tight for some uses, such as in stockings, bodystockings, swimsuits and women's bras.
A swimsuit is an item of clothing designed to be worn by people engaging in a water-based activity or water sports, such as swimming, diving and surfing, or sun-orientated activities, such as sun bathing. Different types may be worn by men, women, and children. A swimsuit can be described by various names, some of which are used only in particular locations, including swimwear, bathing suit, swimming costume, bathing costume, swimming suit, swimmers, swimming togs, bathers, cossie, or swimming trunks for men, besides others.
The monokini, designed by Rudi Gernreich in 1964, consisting of only a brief, close-fitting bottom and two thin straps, was the first women's topless swimsuit. His revolutionary and controversial design included a bottom that "extended from the midriff to the upper thigh" and was "held up by shoestring laces that make a halter around the neck." Some credit Gernreich's design with initiating, or describe it as a symbol of, the sexual revolution.
The tankini is a bathing suit combining a tank top, mostly made of spandex-and-cotton or Lycra-and-nylon, and a bikini bottom introduced in the late 1990s. This type of swimwear is considered by some to provide modesty closer to a one-piece suit with the convenience of a two-piece suit, as the entire suit need not be removed in order to use a toilet. Tankinis come in a variety of styles, colors, and shapes, some include features such as integrated push-up bras. It is particularly popular as children's beachwear, and athletic outfit good enough for a triathlon. According to Katherine Betts, Vogue's fashion-news director, this amphibious sportswear for sand or sea lets users go rafting, play volleyball, and swim without worrying about losing their top.
Annette Marie Sarah Kellermann was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville star, film actress, and writer.
Nude swimming, or skinny dipping, is the practice of bathing naked, whether in natural bodies of water, in swimming pools, or in hot tubs.
Competitive swimwear refers to the swimsuit, clothing, equipment, and accessories used in the aquatic sports of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, triathlon, and water polo.
A swimsuit competition, more commonly now called a bikini contest, is a beauty contest which is judged and ranked while contestants wear a swimsuit, typically a bikini. One of the judging criteria is the physical attractiveness of the contestants. The Big Four international beauty pageants have included examples of such a competition.
Sea bathing is swimming in the sea or in sea water and a sea bath is a protective enclosure for sea bathing. Unlike bathing in a swimming pool, which is generally done for pleasure or exercise purposes, sea bathing was once thought to have curative or therapeutic value. It arose from the medieval practice of visiting spas for the beneficial effects of the waters. The practice of sea bathing dates back to the 17th century but became popular in the late 18th century. The development of the first swimsuits dates from the period as does the development of the bathing machine.
The maillot is the fashion designer's name for a woman's one-piece swimsuit, also called a tank suit. A maillot swimsuit generally consists of a tank-style torso top with high-cut legs. However, a maillot may also include a plunging neckline, turtleneck-style top, or revealing cutouts.
A burkini is a style of swimsuit for women. The suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, while being light enough for swimming. The amount of skin covered is about the same as the person wearing a wetsuit and a swimming cap.
Jantzen is a brand of swimwear that was established in 1916 and first appeared in the city of Portland, Oregon, United States. The brand name later replaced the name of the parent company that manufactured the branded products. The brand featured a logo image of a young woman, dressed in a red one-piece swimsuit and bathing hat, assuming a diving posture with outstretched arms and an arched back. Known as the Jantzen "Diving Girl", the image in various forms became famous throughout the world during the early twentieth century.
Louis Réard was a French automobile engineer and clothing designer who introduced the modern two-piece bikini in July 1946. He opened a bikini shop and ran it for the next 40 years.
Jacques Heim was a French fashion designer and costume designer for theater and film, and was a manufacturer of women's furs. From 1930 to his death in 1967, he ran the fashion house Jacques Heim, which closed in 1969. He was president of the Paris Chambre Syndicale de la haute couture from 1958 to 1962, a period of transition from haute couture to ready-to-wear clothing.
The bikini has spawned many stylistic variations. A regular bikini is a two-piece swimsuit that together covers a female's crotch, buttocks, and breasts. Some bikini designs cover larger portions of the wearer's body while other designs provide minimal coverage. Topless variants are still sometimes considered bikinis, although they are technically not a two-piece swimsuit.
Evidence of bikini-style women's clothing has been found as early as 5600 BC, and the history of the bikini can be traced back to that era. Illustrations of women wearing bikini-like garments during competitive athletic events in the Roman era have been found in several locations, the most famous of which is at Villa Romana del Casale.
The thong is a garment generally used as either underwear or as a swimsuit in some countries. It may also be worn for traditional ceremonies or competitions.
The sling swimsuit is a one-piece swimsuit which is supported by fabric at the neck. Sling swimsuits provide as little coverage as, or even less than, a bikini. Monokini types also exist. The sling swimsuit is also known by a variety of names including "suspender bikini", "sling bikini", "slingkini", "suspender thong", "slingshot swimsuit" or just "slingshot". It is so named because of its resemblance to the Y-shape frame of a slingshot. It is sometimes listed as a bikini variant. When designed for or worn by a man, it is often called a "mankini".
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.