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fitting the silhouette of the decade. Fashionable first and practical second

Time:2020-01-16 09:50Underwear site information Click:

History Erotic Female Short Swimwear

Human beings have a surprisingly long relationship with the concept of swimwear. After all, the first heated swimming pool is believed to have been built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the 1st century BC.

Before the early 1800s, it was relatively common to swim either nude or simply in your underwear. When communal swimming baths became more popular and prevalent in the mid-19th century, decorum demanded men and women cover their modesty with garments made specially for the purpose. Women covered up with cotton or wool bathing dresses, drawers, and sometimes even stockings.

 fitting the silhouette of the decade. Fashionable first and practical second

A women’s swimsuit from the 1870s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

While seeming ungainly today, these impractical garments must have been liberating for women used to corsets and long, hampering skirts worn over multiple petticoats. By their very nature these “swimming suits” also threatened entrenched ideas around feminine activity (or lack thereof), perhaps suggesting women who swam energetically could no longer be considered “the weaker sex”.

Nonetheless, modesty presided above all else during this period, and it wasn’t until women began to swim competitively that change began.

A scandalous arrest

Water, particularly the beach, has been described by fashion scholars Harold Koda and Richard Martin as the “great proscenium of twentieth-century dress” – a statement that encourages us to rethink the importance of swimwear in our everyday dress and lifestyles.

In 1907, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, for wearing a one-piece bathing suit in public. This garment was a sporting necessity, and fellow athletes successfully championed a skirtless, sleeveless one-piece for the 1912 Olympics.

 fitting the silhouette of the decade. Fashionable first and practical second

Annette Kellerman demonstrating her diving skills at Adelaide’s Glenelg baths, 1905. State Library of South Australia

Kellerman’s incredible figure was admired as much as her actions were berated, and she was known to strip down to her bathing costume in all-female public lectures, proving a healthy lifestyle (rather than a corset) was to thank for her silhouette.

“If more girls would swim and dance and care for athletics”, she commented in 1910, “instead of rushing into matrimony as the only joy in the world, there’d be fewer divorces”.

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