Swimwear contains a history peppered with outlandish mistakes. It’s exhausting to search out an area of fashion where the costume style has been so completely unsuited to the purpose meant.
In antiquity they’d the right plan. Bathing was segregated and nude; similar to a group bathtub. There was a brief dip into swimwear: a wall mosaic from the fourth Century shows ladies dressed in “bikinis”. The look did not last.
In the dark and middle ages no one bathed at all. There are actually no records of any special ladies swimming costumes worn for bathing, and in Europe, “bath homes” went out with the Romans.
Swimming reappeared as a sport in the nineteenth Century. Men wore long, fitted woolen one piece suits, looking a touch like long underwear and no doubt itchy, however reasonably sensible to swim in. This look lasted a century, getting shorter and a touch more vibrant by the 1920s.
The women finally got into the water for fun in Victorian times. This was an age when modesty and decorum took precedence over practicality. Ladies wore cumbersome and dangerously heavy bathing robes, the strict morality of the time ensuring flesh was lined, curves were obscured and the thick, black, woolen garment wasn’t see-though when wet. Lead weights in the hem of the robe stopped the dress floating up in the water.
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