The first patented bra design is dated 1920’s but it wasn’t till 1946 that the first swimwear design called “bikini” was invented and revealed to the world. The bikini we know today has been a long time in coming; wall paintings from approximately 1600 B.C. show women wearing two-piece bathing costumes and mosaic artwork dating back to 286-305 AD have been found, depicting women in clothing similar to the modern bikini. As women’s fashions evolved so too did their swimwear.
The modern bikini was introduced by a car engineer, Louis Réard whilst running his mothers lingerie boutique, competing against fashion designer, Jacques Heim in Paris.
Jacques designed and promoted his two piece swimsuit as the smallest swimsuit in the world, calling it “Atome” after the atom, at the time the smallest known particle of matter. Louis went one better by slicing the top off the bottoms revealing the navel, which the “Atome” covered, promoting it as smaller than the smallest and giving it the name “Bikini” which is thought to be after the Bikini Atoll which was in the news at the time due to atomic bomb testing.
The bikini was designed to be a skimpy two-piece swimsuit and such that the materials used have to withstand sun exposure, salt and chlorinated water and the general wear and tear of outside activities, unlike the more delicate lingerie relations. Both the top and bottom of a bikini resemble lingerie in style, construction and coverage. Like a bra the bikini top comes in varying styles: halter-neck, strapless, underwire, padded, push-up or simple triangular pieces of fabric covering the breast reminiscent of the original first designed bra. Where too the bikini bottom is related to women’s panties - specifically designed to cover the groin area - the bikini style knickers or panties are a popular choice of briefs. With varying in style, bikini bottoms can be g-string, high or low cut revealing as much or as little as the wearer wants.
Thought technically not lingerie, the bikini is a very close relation, when you think about it. A bikini can usually be found in a persons underwear draw right along side bras and knickers and just like lingerie, shopping for a bikini can be just as frustrating. Follow the same rules for bra shopping when choosing a bikini, getting the correct size and fit is crucial but you also need to make sure the top doesn’t creep up or move during activities.
Like other clothes we buy, you need to be mindful of design, fabrics, colour and prints, when choosing a bikini. Finding the right bikini or lingerie is a process which once mastered should flatter any body type, bring confidence and enjoyment to the wearer.
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