At a popular swimming pool in Paris in 1946, French designer Louis Reard presented a daring ensemble worn by a Parisan showgirl: the two-piece swimsuit. Reard dubbed the new fashion as the "bikini," which was ironically named after a newsworthy event that happened earlier in the week. A U.S. atomic test occurred off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Reard wanted the bikini to be simply "explosive."
Before the bikini was introduced to the female population, women wore halter tops and shorts to the beach in the 1930s.Only a tiny portion of the midriff was shown and modesty was the norm.
Wester Europeans were finally free of war in the summer of 1946 and the bikini gave them another kind of liberation.
After Reard unveiled his new style, two other French designers caught on and created new prototypes. One advertised his creation as "the world's smallest bathing suit." In response, Reard called his "smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit," which was technically tinier with its bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by a string.
Before long, women across Europe sported the daring two-piece on beaches. Reard's creation boomed and he kept the bikini mystique alive by promoting that a two-piece bathing suit was not a real bikini "unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring," according to History.com.
Bikinis were not successfully accepted in the U.S. until the early 1960s when a younger, more liberated crowd started adorning them. One influencer included Brian Hyland, who sang the popular hit, "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini." The Beach Boys and other rock groups were also a driving force that celebrated the California surfing culture.
Today, Women's Health Mag reported that the average women owns three bathing suits and that they would rather have dental work done than go bathing suit shopping.
Sources: History.com, Women's Health Magazine