Since July 5, 1946, women have been hitting the beaches and poolsides in bikinis. National Bikini Day marks the anniversary of the invention of the revealing two-piece bathing suit.
Named after the Bikini Atoll, where the United States conducted atomic tests, the two-piece bathing suit made its debut in Paris. French designer Louis Réard wanted to name revealing bits of fabric “atom.”
The original bikini was created by automobile engineer Louis Reard (1897-1984) and consisted of only 30 square inches. Reard declared it wasn’t a real bikini unless it could be “pulled through a wedding ring.”
By World War II, sunbathers cast aside the chaste one-piece bathing costumes for simple two-piece bathing suits. However, nothing prepared the United States for the revealing bikini when it hit the beaches on July 5, 1946. While Europe enthusiastically donned the bikini after a long and arduous world war, American’s sense of decency kept them from accepting the bikini until the 1960s.
Though the bikini was introduced to the world in the late 1940s, it wasn’t until 1957 that celebrities and mainstream media began to accept the skin-bearing new fashion trend. It was in that year that French actress Brigitte Bardot appeared at Cannes Film Festival in a floral two-piece. And once Bardot made it acceptable to wear a bikini, celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Esther Williams quickly followed suit.
July 1962 marked the first time that Playboy ever featured a woman with a bikini on its cover. In fact, the iconic cover barely featured a woman at all. Instead, it focused artistically on a bikini bottom and the tan lines it created.
The bikini has been the official uniform of women’s beach volleyball players since the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1996.
The first woman to ever model a bikini was……a nude dancer. Her name was Micheline Bernardini, and Réard hired her after every model he approached turned him down (on account of his “bikini” being too revealing).
The oldest recordings of a two-piece set date back to Ancient Roman times. The first depiction of a two piece comes from a 1,700-year-old Roman mosaic called Chamber of the Ten Maidens, in which several women are seen playing sports and exercising in what could be considered a modern-day bikini.
The original monokini took the bikini to the next level. Designed in 1964 by Rudi Gernreich, the monokini was basically a regular swimsuit—but where a top should’ve been, there were two thin straps instead. As you might imagine, the “topless bikini” didn’t take off quite like the bikini did.
In 2008 Speedo, in collaboration with NASA, released a swimsuit so drag-resistant that it was banned from use in swimming competitions for giving swimmers using it too much of an advantage. – Source
Nearly three-quarters of the market for swimsuits is made up of women’s swimsuits, with the rest being split fairly evenly between men and children.