There's so much scandal attached to a woman's two-piece, that it's taken quite some time to arrive, like anything to do with women's freedom always has. People have faced stereotypes and even arrests for anything that was considered even mildly provocative. Thank god swimming began becoming an athletic sport for women, a leading reason for the evolution of the much 'provocative' two-piece, as we know it today.
The chart begins as early as the 1800s. Bathing gowns were all the rage for spending some time at the beach.
Well, we do see why they were called 'gowns'. Protecting tender, white skin from the scorching sun was a big thing back then (spray tan? Whaaa?). Women dressed in things that were buttoned up to their neck, with ruffled bloomers, and (some) chose to further protect their modesty and wore stockings with the ensemble. Some minimal clothing that was!
With the end of the Victorian era in the 1900s, the bathing gown took a turn for the better. It was still the exact opposite of body hugging, but at least the gowns stopped existing!
Even though the hems had gone up just a wee bit, they still resembled the gowns with their buttoned-up collars and were still made of flannel or wool. Not because the beaches were cold, of course, but to cover the female form as much as possible.
Until Annette Kellerman froze hell over by making an appearance in this:
She was the first woman to swim across the English Channel and was later arrested for her 'provocative' outfit. But she did take one for the team and made 'em all realise that women can do all the swimming they want, if only the damned skirts wouldn't get in the way. This sparked a revolution in swimwear.
Then came the Flapper Era of 1920s. Hair grew shorter, hemlines dramatically rose to the knee, and makeup was no longer just for women-who-left-their-doors-ajar.
It was the flappers of 1920s who finally showed the girls having fun in the open was just fine. Legs bare, cropped short hair, and figure-hugging swimsuits began becoming a thing.
But we had to wait till the 1940s for the bikini to arrive in the noodle straps that we see now. No longer were shoulders a cause of stigma to society, at large.
From the rompers of the 1920s, the swimsuit began to slightly look like what it does now, in the 40s. The hemlines had gone up and this was, kind of, the beginning of the bikini becoming the minimalist fashion statement it is now.
With the 1950s came the age when designers too began to cross the boundaries of what was acceptable. Showing off the stomach was all the rage. The bikini, had arrived.
With the arrival of women like Marylin Monroe, female sexuality was now a part of pop culture. The top was a halter/bra hybrid. It was worn with high waisted lowers that almost resembled skirts.
There was no going back after that. In the 1960s came second-wave feminism, telling women to wear whatever the hell they wanted, the bikini could not have gotten...tinier.
It became what it is today and donning it began to mean - the more the skin the better. It went through major transformations and in 1964 Rudi Gernreich reinvented it into a form that could not get any teenier - the monokini.
Oh, it was here to stay, alright. No matter however so slightly, but India caught up too!
Then came the 80s when bikinis were worn over sculpted bodies, an aggressive female sexuality that it came to promote. We had fine Indian women go against the tides of sanskar and don bikinis on-screen.
These were bold outfits worn by equally bold women. It was the beginning of high bikini lines that outlined the hips and legs. Bikini bottoms got smaller and showed more cheek than before. Out there, was now the new in.
And now, we have bikini trends that really let women wear anything they want. It's minimalist, comfortable, and you can go outright quirky. Like this take on the monokini.
We are not really sure if the patch fell in the wrong place or if it was designed to do so. But since the world's a free place to live in...
The best guess is that this doubles up as a swimming tube as well. Safety-meets-fashion 101.
What's a trip to the beach without beer! And what's a bikini without a bottle opener!
Guys, it seems to be holding together just fine. Not the most comfortable ones out there, we guess, but then why not!
The bikini still evolves. Today, everything goes. Flaunting a bikini at the beach is trying to move out of the confines of being limited to a certain body size or shape. People are free to flaunt whatever they may. Bikinis have shown how social climates have changed over the centuries, it's been a way of claiming their bodies as their own and not for the male gaze. Let's hope it only gets better.