The history of swimwear: from full body dresses to today's bikini
Enjoy a sunny day by the sea in a newly bought bikini that only barely covers your body? That would have been completely unthinkable at the end of the 19th century. It was not appropriate, especially for women, to show themselves freely - it was considered immoral behavior. In addition, at that time only the rich and noble could afford to relax at seaside resorts. Separate bathing areas were soon introduced, for example on the Baltic Sea, which were separated by a wall so that men and women could bathe with "appropriate" clothing. Equipped with long bathing dresses that only showed the ankles, the women ventured into the water. However, this always had dangerous consequences: the bathing suits soaked up water and became very heavy. This led to many tragic bathing accidents, sometimes even fatal.
It was not until 1910 that the first bathing suits were manufactured, which came closer to our current ideas. However, the material was still heavy cotton fabrics. In the 1920s, this industry gained in importance as beach holidays became more and more interesting for the population. As a consequence, more and more respected designers focused on creating new swimwear. These include, for example, the well-known fashion brand Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. Ten years later, while showing the belly button was still frowned upon, all other areas of the body were now much more visible. Above all, deep back cutouts were seen more frequently. This phenomenon was also reflected in evening wear, as many designer evening dresses featured a low-cut back. Bathing in more revealing clothing was now a trend across much of Europe; but not in Germany. Firstly, the law of 1932 prohibited skinny dipping. On the other hand, it was prescribed by law for men and women which parts of the body may be visible.
The beginnings of the bikini
Then in 1946 the revolution: the first bikini finally appeared! Both the French designer Jacques Heim and the French mechanical engineer Louis Réard designed the first two-piece suits and caused a stir with the tight cut of the advertised “smallest bathing suit in the world”. But here, too, all the beginnings were difficult. It took quite a long time for this trend to catch on and be accepted by the masses.
The design in the 50s was characterized by bright colors and creative patterns. This style was soon replaced by more sporty and modern swimwear. Nylon was also discovered around this time. This improved both comfort and freedom of movement. After the division of Germany, naturism gained popularity, especially in East Germany. In western Germany, on the other hand, moral and restrained ideas were more adhered to.
To this day, the colors as well as the patterns and cuts of the products change every year. It remains exciting to see how the history of swimwear will develop in the future. At Coco Malou, this summer is definitely characterized by colorful floral patterns ( Philine Rübel ) and olive-colored styles that cover more or less skin, depending on your preference. In any case, we are happy that we can now freely choose how we want to dress on the beach - and hope that this self-determination will spread all over the world. <3
Discover the endless summer collection now.
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