Bathing suits: Wikis


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A swimsuit, bathing suit, togs or swimming costume is an item of clothing designed to be worn while participating in water sports and activities such as swimming, water polo, diving, surfing, water skiing, or for any activity in the sun, such as sun bathing. It is also used as an undergarment in sports that require a wetsuit such as waterskiing, scuba diving, surfing, and wakeboarding. In New Zealand English and some areas of Australian English, swimsuits are usually called togs or bathers. The term "togs" is less common in other parts of the Commonwealth, where it can also refer to clothes in general.

Contents

Current swimsuit styles

In western culture, men's swimsuit styles include boardshorts, jammers, swim trunks, briefs or "speedos", thongs, and g-strings, in order of decreasing lower body coverage.

Women's swimsuits are generally one-piece, bikinis or thongs. The most recent innovation is the burqini, a more modest garment designed for Muslim women, which covers the whole body and head (but not face) in a manner similar to a diver's wetsuit. These are an updated version of full-body swimwear, which has been available for centuries, but complies with Islam's traditional emphasis on modest dress. In Egypt, the term "Sharia swimsuit" is used to describe full-body swimwear.[1]

Special swimsuits for competitive swimming, designed to reduce skin drag, can resemble unitards. For some kinds of swimming and diving, special bodysuits called diveskins are worn. These suits are made from spandex and provide little thermal protection, but they do protect the skin from stings and abrasion. Most competitive swimmers also wear special swimsuits including partial and full bodysuits, racerback styles, jammers and racing briefs to assist their glide through the water thus gaining a speed advantage (see competitive swimwear).

Swimsuits are also worn for the purpose of body display in beauty pageants. Magazines like Sports Illustrated's annual "swimsuit issue" feature models and sports personalities in swimsuits.

Body coverage

Swimsuits range from garments designed to almost completely cover the body to garments designed to reveal as much of the body as possible without actual nudity, the choice of garment depending on factors such as how much or how little sun protection the wearer desires, air and water temperatures, fashion trends, and modesty. Swimsuits can be skin-tight or loose fitting. They are often lined in front with a second layer of fabric if the outer fabric becomes transparent when wet. Almost all swimsuits cover the genitals and pubic hair, while most except thongs cover much or all of the buttocks. Most swimsuits in western culture leave at least the head, shoulders, arms, and lower part of the leg (below the knee) exposed. Women's swimsuits generally cover at least the aereola and bottom half of the breasts, but some are designed to bare all or part of them (see toplessness). In many countries, young girls and sometimes women may choose not to wear a bathing suit top, and this can vary with the occasion, location, age, etc. Men's swimsuits which cover the upper body are relatively rare in western culture.

Both men and women may sometimes wear swimsuits covering more of the body for cold water swimming (see also wetsuit and dry suit), or for swimming competitions where they may be constructed of a special low resistance fabric.

Unisex styles

Name Image Description
Boardshorts Freeballer board shorts 01.jpg A loose-fitting style of shorts with the leg length going down to the knees.
Rash guard
(also known as rash vest)
A type of athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. Rash guards may be worn as an alternative to wetsuits during warmer weather. They may also offer UV protection.
Wetsuit and Dry suit Surfer in wetsuit carries his surboard on the beach.JPG A close fitting, insulating garment usually made from neoprene or similar material.
Drag suits A pair of shorts or any loose shirts worn over a swimmer's inner swimsuit to increase resistance against the water and build up the swimmer's endurance.
Racing suits Swimsuits made of technologically advanced fabrics biomimeticly designed with a surface that mimics the rough shark denticles to reduce drag along key areas of the body. The characteristics of the fabric improve shape retention and increase muscle compression to reduce vibration and retain muscle shape to reduce fatigue and power loss. Available in a variety of cuts such as bodyskin, legskin and kneeskin.

Women's swimsuits

Name Image Description
One-piece
(also known as tank suit, maillot)
BCprovincialswimteam05.jpg Probably the most common form of one-piece swimsuit, the tank suit form is inspiration for the subsequent creation of the tank top as a mainstream article of clothing. The name "tank suit" is also supposed to be derived from the term "swimming tank", an obsolete term for what is now called a swimming pool.
Bikini
(also known as two piece)
Bkpic.jpg breasts, the other the groin and buttocks, leaving an uncovered area between the two. Bikinis are available in many stylistic variations. (see Bikini variants)
Monokini
(also known as a unikini or topless swimsuit)
A women's swimsuit with one piece that exposes the

Men's swimsuits

Name Image Description
Swim briefs
(also known as racing briefs, speedos, competition briefs, bathers, racer bathers)
USC Waterpolo Player.jpg Swimwear in the same style as underwear briefs. Swim briefs are often made of a nylon and spandex composite, while some longer lasting suits are made from polyester. The style varies from a full seat to thong or g-string. Most swim briefs have a beige or white lining on the inside front made of a similar fabric.
Trunks In the US, this describes a loose, mid-thigh style of swimwear, made of 100% polyester or 100% nylon fabric. They are usually shorter than boardshorts but longer than boxer shorts. They feature a polyester liner inside the shorts. Although trunks have been used as swimwear since the 1940s, their heyday was in 1990s when they were highly popularised thanks in part to TV shows like Baywatch. Today, they have been eclipsed by boardshorts among teennagers and young adults. They remain the norm with older age groups and young children.

In other cultures (particularly the UK) the term 'trunks' is used to describe swim briefs, although it has been increasingly common for any mens' swimwear to be generically described as 'trunks'.

Square leg suits Roma Pride 2008.JPG A swimwear style similar to swim briefs, but with a much more conservative cut. They can be compared to boxer briefs but with nylon/spandex composite or polyester fabric.
Swim jammer Man wearing jammer on diving block.jpg A type of men's swimwear worn primarily by competitive athletes, somewhat resembling cycling shorts or compression shorts.
Fundoshi Japanese traditional swimwear FUNDOSHI red rokushaku front photomodel fthong 1.jpg A traditional Japanese style of underwear, sometimes worn as swimwear.
Mankini Mankini (cropped).jpg A buttock-revealing unitard swimsuit for men popularized by Borat.

Competitive swimwear

Unlike regular swimsuits, which are designed mainly for the physical appearances, competitive swimwear is manufactured for the purpose of aiding athletes in swim competitions. They reduce friction and drag in the water, increasing the efficiency of the swimmer's forward motion. The tight fits allow for easy movement and are said to reduce muscle vibration,[2] thus reducing drag. Starting around 2000, in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the swimsuits, engineers have taken to designing them to replicate the skin of sea based animals, sharks in particular.[3]

In July 2009, FINA voted to ban non-textile (non-woven) swimsuits in competitive events from 2010. The new policy was implimented to combat the issues associated with performance inhancing costumes, hindering the ability to accurately measure the performance of swimmers. Subsequently, the new ruling states that men's swimsuits may maximally cover the area from the naval to the knee, and women's counterparts from the shoulder to the knee.[4][5]

1858 Woman's bathing suit.
Cartoon by George du Maurier in Punch, 1877. Shows men's and children's bathing suits.

Some swimmers use a specialized training suit called drag suits to artificially increase drag during practice.[citation needed] Drag suits are swimwear with an outer layer of looser fabric - often mesh or nylon - to increase resistance against the water and build up the swimmer's endurance. They come in a variety of styles, but most resemble a looser fitting square-cut or swim brief.[citation needed]

Swimwear and hygiene

Germs, bacteria and mold can grow very quickly on wet bathing suits. Medical professionals warn that wearing damp swimwear for long periods of time can cause a number of infections and rashes in children and adults, and warn against sharing bathing suits with others.[6][7] They suggest changing out of a wet bathing suit right away can help prevent vaginal infections and itching in females[8][9]and Tinea Cruris "Jock Itch" in males.[10][11]

Picture taken circa 1915

History

In Classical antiquity swimming and bathing was most often done nude. In some settings coverings were used. Murals at Pompeii show women wearing two-piece suits covering the areas around their breasts and hips in a fashion remarkably similar to a bikini of ca. 1960. After this, the notion of special water apparel seems to have been lost for centuries.

In various cultural traditions one swims, if not in the nude, in a version in suitable material of a garment or undergarment commonly worn on land, e.g. a loincloth such as the Japanese man's fundoshi.

The invention of the railway, and the proliferation of rail travel in the mid 1800s made it possible for large numbers of people to visit coastal regions. In the 18th century women wore "bathing gowns" in the water; these were long dresses of fabrics that would not become transparent when wet, with weights sewn into the hems so that they would not rise up in the water. The men's swim suit, a rather form-fitting wool garment with long sleeves and legs similar to long underwear, was developed and would change little for a century.

In the 19th century, the woman's two piece suit became common—the two pieces being a gown from shoulder to knees plus a set of trousers with leggings going down to the ankles.

In the Victorian era, popular beach resorts were commonly equipped with bathing machines designed to avoid the exposure of people in swimsuits, especially to people of the opposite sex.

In 1907 the swimmer Annette Kellerman from Australia visited the United States as an "underwater ballerina", a version of synchronized swimming involving diving into glass tanks. She was arrested for indecent exposure because her swimsuit showed arms, legs and the neck. Kellerman changed the suit to have long arms and legs and a collar, still keeping the close fit that revealed the shapes underneath. She later starred in several movies, including one about her life.

Man and woman in swimsuits, ca. 1910; she is exiting a bathing machine
American 1920swoman's bathing suit

After this, bathing wear started to shrink, first uncovering the arms and then the legs up to mid-thigh. Collars receded from around the neck down to around the top of the bosom. The development of new fabrics allowed for new varieties of more comfortable and practical swim wear.

Due to the figure-hugging nature of these garments, glamour photography since the 1940s and 1950s has often featured people wearing swimsuits. This subset of glamour photography eventually evolved into swimsuit photography exemplified by the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issues.

The first bikinis were introduced just after World War II. Early examples were not very different from the women's two pieces common since the 1920s, except that they had a gap below the breast line allowing for a section of bare midriff. They were named after Bikini Atoll, the site of several nuclear weapons tests, for their supposed explosive effect on the viewer.

Through the 1950s, it was thought proper for the lower part of the bikini to come up high enough to cover the navel. From the 1960s on, the bikini shrank in all directions until it sometimes covered little more than the nipples and genitalia, although less revealing models giving more support to the breasts remained popular. At the same time, fashion designer Rudi Gernreich introduced the monokini, a topless suit for women consisting of a modest bottom supported by two thin straps. Although not a commercial success, the suit opened eyes to new design possibilities. In the 1980s the thong or "tanga" came out of Brazil, said to have been inspired by traditional garments of native tribes in the Amazon. However, the one-piece suit continued to be popular for its more modest approach.

Men's swimsuits developed roughly in parallel to women's during this period, with the shorts covering progressively less. Eventually racing-style "speedo" suits became popular—and not just for their speed advantages. Thongs, G-strings, and bikini style suits are also worn, typically these are more popular in more tropical regions; however, they may also be worn at public swimming pools and inland lakes. But in the 1990s, longer and baggier shorts became popular, with the hems often reaching to the knees. These were often worn lower on the hips than regular shorts.

Alternatives to swimsuits

Swimming without a swimsuit is a form of social nudity. Nude beaches may be reserved for nude sun bathing and swimming.

As an alternative to a swimsuit, some people wear trousers, underpants or a T-shirt either as a make-shift swimsuit or because they prefer regular clothes over swimsuits. In some countries, such as Korea or Thailand, swimming in regular clothes is the norm while swimsuits are rare. At beaches, this may be more accepted than at swimming pools, which tend not to permit the practice because underwear is unlined, may become translucent, and may be perceived as unclean.

See also

References

External links

  • Bikini Science—an examination and classification of women's swimwear







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