The History Of The Bikini: The Iconic "Sex Symbol" Of Fashion

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The History Of The Bikini: The Iconic "Sex Symbol" Of Fashion
The beloved two-piece wasn't always the most popular piece of swimwear.

Today we celebrate the inauguration of the bikini, a swimsuit legend that graces beaches, pools, and oceans everywhere during these hot summer months. The sexy little number is now a staple for any woman's wardrobe, but it wasn't always the most popular piece of swimwear.

Read on to discover how far the bikini has come since its ban-inducing childhood.

1400 B.C.: Roman mosaics depicted women wearing two-piece outfits in Sicily, Italy for purely sports-related purposes.

1907: The layers began to strip off when Australian swimmer and performer Annette Kellerman donned a curve-hugging one-piece on a Boston beach —and was later arrested for it. Whoops.

1913: With women able to participate in the Olympics, designer Carl Jantzen designed a two-piece suit that consisted of a sleeveless top and shorts.

1920s/30s: Women's fashion started releasing its inhibitions. Necklines grew deeper, sleeves grew shorter, and excess material chopped off. These trends translated to swimwear, resulting in shorter tops to reveal a sliver of stomach and shorter shorts.

July 5, 1946: Fashion designer Jacques Heim debuted a scandalous skimpy two-piece that he nicknamed "atome," the French word for atom. Only three weeks later, Louis Reard, Heim's competition, debuted an even skimpier version made out of only 30 inches of fabric named the "bikini" after the Bikini Atolls in the Pacific Ocean. Micheline Bernardini was the first woman to model Reard's creation, garnering attention from men and women alike.

Early 1950s: Countries across Europe deemed the bikini promiscuous and tried to ban its existence, but women weren't having it. Reard received more than 50,000 letters from fans expressing their love for the sexy suit.

1957: French actress Brigitte Bardot frolicked on the beaches of south France during the Cannes Film Festival wearing none other than the infamous bikini.

1960: Pop singer Bryan Hyland released the quirky and unforgettable tune "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini," devoting an entire song to the suit in all its glory.

1962: Actress Ursula Andress played Honey Ryder in Dr. No, a James Bond film, and strutted from the sea wearing nothing but a white belted bikini on the big screen.

1964: The bikini graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's first swimsuit issue with Babette March's stunning beach body rockin' the suit for all to see.

1966: Racquel Welch proved that all kinds of bikinis are favorable when she wore a frayed loincloth in One Million Years BC.

1988: Bikinis continued to evolve, eventually giving way to the G-string, a popular Brazilian style. Growing bawdier and more miniscule by the year, they took the swimsuit market by storm.

1990s: Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, and many more American starlets popped up everywhere in teeny bikinis, turning the little suit mainstream in a big way. Gabrielle Reece stepped it up a notch by turning the suit into a uniform during her reign as a beach volleyball queen.

2012: Kate Upton made a splash with her barely-there strings on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, controversial even for today's bikini standards.

2013: Here's to another summer of romping around in bikinis of all shapes, sizes, and styles!

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