1. The first prototypes of modern swim trunks were introduced around the turn of the 20th century. Despite their more modern appearance, these swimsuits left much to be desired in terms of fit and convenience. The trunks became extremely heavy when wet (weighing approximately nine pounds when completely saturated) and had a tendency to fall down.
2. In the 1920s, the battles between proponents of scanty one-piece swimsuits and the guardians of public morality who favored more modest swimwear often resulted in violence. Pitched, gang-style battles were known to occur throughout the country. Many women were actually arrested for defying laws that banned scanty beachwear.
3. In 1931, the swimsuit label Jantzen introduced its new “Sunnette” model swimsuit for young girls. The swimsuit consisted of short-style bottoms with thin straps over the shoulders to hold the bottoms in place. The chest was left entirely bare. The new model was recommended for its “full body exposure to the healthful ultra-violet rays of the sun.” Needless to say, this swimsuit model is no longer popular or touted for its healthfulness.
4. Swimsuit designers argued for several decades after the introduction of the first modern man’s swimsuit over the exposure of the chest. In 1932, one of the first chest-revealing swimsuits, the “Topper,” was placed on the market. This swimsuit boasted a detachable top that could be zipped away from the trunk bottoms. Many men chose to go topless in this swimsuit and were subsequently arrested for indecent exposure.
5. Men’s swimsuits in the mid-40’s were designed to closely resemble women’s swimsuit styles, imposing tight abdomens and narrow hips on men with girdle-type discipline. Men who did not want to show off everything they had to the world, however, could always opt for a more boxer-type of swim shorts.
6. When the bikini was first introduced to the world in 1946, it was described as a “two-piece bathing suit that reveals everything about a girl except her mother’s maiden name.” Of course, the rather modest style and cut of the first bikinis would be revamped in later decades to reveal quite a bit more about a girl.
7. The first animal print swimsuits were introduced in the 1950s. Interestingly, the selling line for these swimsuits was, “If you can’t drive a Jaguar, wear one.” It is questionable whether the swimsuit was an acceptable consolation prize.
8. A style of swimsuit called the glamour suit became quite popular during the Eisenhower years. One such swimsuit, the “Salute to Spring,” cost purchasers an average of $1000 and was constructed of flesh-colored mesh and rhinestones.
9. Swimsuit accessories took on new importance in the 1950s, as approximately half of America’s population visited the beaches each summer. Sunglasses, hats, beach bags, and a variety of footwear all came into fashion for both style and functionality.
10. Spandex fabric revolutionized the swimsuit industry in the 1960s, allowing swimsuit designers to create a more fitted, lightweight swimsuit product. In June of 1965, Vogue proclaimed the new fabric as the closest thing to a second skin, stating: "When it’s dried in the sun, it’s a sinuous velvety black, and when it’s soaked with water, it glistens like a seal on the rocks."
11. The scandalous “monokini” topless swimsuit was first introduced in 1964. Designed by Rudi Gernreich, the swimsuit was wildly popular at its introduction, despite denunciation by the Vatican press.
12. In 1964, the introduction of the Sport’s Illustrated “Swimsuit Edition” rocketed swimsuit fashion into the lives of both men and women. For 40 years, the magazine has continued to showcase new swimsuit styles and models.
13. While the “bi” in the term bikini does not technically have anything to do with the two-piece construction of the swimsuit, a short-lived “trikini” was introduced in 1968. The swimsuit boasted three pieces, consisting of bikini bottoms and separate bra cups held on by Velcro.
14. In the 1980s, the world’s most expensive swimsuit cost $12,000 and boasted a scattering of diamonds and pearls on a jet-black maillot-style cut.
15. According to a recent Mervyn’s department store survey, women would rather clean the bathroom, take a call from a telemarketer, do the laundry, and take their car in to be serviced than shop for and try on swimsuits.
16. The term maillot, meaning a tight-fitting one-piece swimsuit, is from the French word maillot, meaning swaddling clothes. It was officially inducted into the English dictionary in 1928.
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