Swimsuit Facts
Swimsuit Facts

60 Interesting Swimsuit Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published March 27, 2017Updated September 7, 2019
  • In Australia, Speedos are called “Budgy Smugglers,” a term which is derived from the name of a small parrot, the domestic budgerigar. Apparently, the body-hugging swimwear looks as if it is attempting to conceal a parrot when viewed from the front.[5]
  • The most expensive swimsuit in the world is a bikini that is worth $30 million dollars. Designed by Susan Rosen and Steinmetz Diamonds, the bikini is made with more than 150 carats of D flawless diamonds which are all set in platinum.[22]
  • The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition that generated the most letters was the 1978 issue, “The Beauties of Brazil,” which published Cheryl Tiegs' infamous fishnet see-through swimsuit. The best selling was the 25th anniversary issue with Kathy Ireland on the cover in 1989.[6]
  • The seamless Speedo polyurethane LZR (“laser”) suit, designed in coordination with NASA, has helped swimmers break over 200 records in just 23 months after it was introduced in February 13, 2008. The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) banned the LZR and other high-tech suits on January 1, 2010.[17]
  • The world’s largest bikini parade took place on November 9, 2009. Clad only in bikinis, 287 girls paraded in Johannesburg, South Africa, to raise awareness for breast cancer, which affects one in every 30 South African women.[20]
  • Interesting Bathing Suit Fact
    Wearing a thong in Melbourne, Florida is illegal
  • Thongs are illegal in Melbourne, Florida as of January 2005. The punishment is a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.[1]
  • Tyra Banks was the first African-American to appear on the cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, in 1997. The second was Beyoncé Knowles, in 2007.[6]
  • One of the first chest-revealing suits for men appeared in 1932 and was called the “Topper.” The suit had a detachable top that could be zipped away from the trunk bottoms. Unfortunately, men who chose to appear topless at the time were often arrested for indecent exposure.[8]
  • In 1907, when Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) wore a one-piece suit in Boston that revealed her arms and legs, she was promptly arrested for indecent exposure.[21]
  • Perhaps the most celebrated cinematic swimwear moment of all time is when Bo Derek ran down the beach in hair braids and a nude swimsuit in the movie 10. The most celebrated bikini moment was when Ursula Andress emerged from the water donning a white bikini as Honey Ryder in the 1962 Bond film Dr. No.[11]
  • In 1921, swimwear manufacturer Jantzen decided to change the term “bathing suit” to “swimming suit” to justify their more revealing swimsuits as a form of athleticism.[9]
  • While the Brazilians helped popularize the thong and its derivatives in the 1970s, the thong may have actually originated 75,000 years ago as primitive clothing to protect male genitals.[1]
  • The 2000 Thong Song by Sisqó—particularly the line “That thong thong thong thong thong”—boosted thong sales and revitalized the thong swimwear industry.[1]
  • The thong (Old English for “flexible leather cord”) is known as fio dental or “dental floss” in Brazil.[18]
  • Sex symbol Diana Dors appeared at the 1955 Venice Film Festival in a mink bikini.[9]
  • I have cellulite. I admit it. But sometimes I just say, 'Screw it, I am going to wear a bikini.'

    - Cindy Crawford

  • Physicians have noted that thongs may not only contribute to recurrent vaginal infections, but the string can also inflame skin leading to thrush. Additionally, thong wearers must keep the rectum and vagina clean, as the string moves bacteria from the rectum to the vaginal area.[13]
  • The term “G-string” does not derive from the fourth string on the violin (G string) Rather, as linguist Robert Hendrickson suggests, the “G” in G-string or “geestring” stands for “groin.”[14]
  • The world’s largest swimsuit photo shoot took place on September 25, 2001, where a total of 1,010 women wearing bikinis gathered in Sydney, Australia. Coordinated by Cosmopolitan and Venus Breeze, the shoot celebrated “30 Days of Fashion and Beauty.”[3]
  • The first formalized bathing costume in the modern era was not a piece of clothing at all but a piece of architecture: a bathing machine. Invented by a Quaker in 1753, the horse-drawn half carriage contained a “modesty tunnel” that allowed a fully clothed Victorian woman to enter the sea privately.[9]
  • Interesting Burqini Fact
    The burqini has encountered some controversy
  • Muslim women can now choose to wear a burqini, which was introduced in 2007 by a Lebanese-Australian designer. However, a woman was banned from a Paris pool for wearing a burqini because Parisian officials deemed the full-body swimsuit unhygienic.[12]
  • During the eighteenth century, women wore “bathing gowns,” which were long dresses of fabric inspired by promenade or lawn dresses. Made from wool or flannel, these bathing costumes had weights sewn into the hem to keep them from floating up. Men would wear a body-fitting wool suit with long legs and sleeves.[9]
  • Modesty laws were very strict in the early 1900s. In 1919, a woman was detained at Coney Island for wearing a bathing suit in public—under her street clothes.[9]
  • In the early 1900s, many American cities created laws that required all women in bathing suits to wear stockings.[9]
  • In May 1917, the American Association of Park Superintendents published in its “Bathing Suit Regulations” that men’s suits should include a “skirt” worn outside the swimming trunks. Men could also wear flannel knee pants with a vest front.[9]
  • In Australia, swimsuits are known as “cossies.” In the UK and Ireland, they are called “togs.”[9]
  • In the late 1800s, the first bathing suits appeared and consisted of padded bloomer pants made from wool or flannel, topped off with a knee-length dress, black wool stockings, shoes, and ruffled hats. The heavy fabric made it almost impossible to swim.[8]
  • Surviving Minoan paintings from 1600 B.C. show women wearing two-piece suits similar to the 1960 bikini. Additionally, a fourth-century A.D. mosaic in Sicily titled “Bikini Girls” also shows women donning two-piece suits.[9]
  • When the first bikini was introduced in 1946, it was marketed as a two-piece swimming suit that revealed “everything about a girl except her mother’s maiden name.”[9]
  • The bikini is named after the islands in the Bikini Atoll in the North Pacific's Marshall Islands where the U.S. tested the atomic bomb in 1946. Both the tiny swimsuit and the bomb had an explosive influence American culture.[9]
  • Interesting Bikini Facts
    The bikini is named after the Bikini Atoll, where testing on the atomic bomb took place

  • In 1964, Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985), cofounder of one of the first American gay rights groups, the Mattachine Society, created the shocking “monokini”—a swimsuit for women consisting of the lower half of a bikini with two thin halter straps which came up between the cleavage and around the neck, leaving the breasts bare. Today the term is used for any women's topless swimsuit.[8]
  • Up until the twentieth century, women who wanted to “swim” in the ocean could merely jump through the waves holding a rope attached to a buoy because their swimwear often weighed over 22 pounds. By 1915, women athletes began viewing swimming as a sport and, consequently, swimsuit fabric started to shrink.[9]
  • When the Barbie doll debuted on March 9, 1959, her first outfit was a black-and-white striped swimsuit[9]
  • Women’s swimwear makes up about 70% of the swimwear market. Children’s swimwear constitutes 13%, and men’s approximately 17%.[15]
  • In the developing world, men’s and boys’ swimwear is becoming increasingly popular. However, the women’s market in the developing world has been historically slow due to cultural and religious constraints.[15]
  • China is the world’s largest exporter of swimwear, constituting approximately 70% of the global shipments.[15]
  • In the 1950s, swimsuits with pointed breasts, known jokingly as “high beams,” were popular. Some suits even offered inflatable bras that could be blown up to the wearer’s desired size.[9]
  • Interesting Speedo Fact
    Speedo is currently the world’s largest-selling swimwear brand
  • Speedo is currently the world’s largest-selling swimwear brand. The company was founded in 1914 by hosiery manufacturer Alexander McRae. The name was created by a Captain Jim Parsons who won a company competition with the slogan “Speed on in your Speedos.”[9]
  • In the famous make-out scene on the beach in the film From Here to Eternity (1953), censors demanded Deborah Kerr’s swimsuit have a skirt to avoid being too provocative.[19]
  • The last time Marilyn Monroe appeared in a bikini on screen was in the 1962 film Something's Got to Give.[9]
  • There were two versions of the famous metallic bikini that Princess Leia wore in Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983): one was made from hard metal that actress Carrie Fisher wore during slow-action scenes; the other was made from a more comfortable rubber piece that she wore when she was performing stunts. There is an entire Website devoted to Princess Leia’s bikini.[4]
  • Fundoshi is a type of swimwear derived from traditional Japanese underwear for adult males.[9]
  • La Femme is an all-female beach in Egypt, away from the prurient view of men and cameras, where Muslim women can replace their long head and body coverings with bikinis without feeling as if they are sinning.[7]
  • In 1923, New York ballet dancer Pearl Howell donned an unusual bathing suit made entirely of seaweed.[9]
  • Though nude bathing was perfectly acceptable, ancient Greeks might also wear bathing costumes, which were essentially street-wear togas. When bathing again became popular in the early eighteenth century, both women and men wore toga-like garments that paid homage to the ancient bathing institution.[8]
  • Jacques Heim (1899-1967) created a precursor to the bikini called the Atome (French for “atom”). He declared it was the “world’s smallest swimsuit.” The creator of the bikini, Louis Reard, claimed he “split the Atome” with the creation of his smaller suit.[9]
  • Because the expansion of the railroad in the 1800s allowed more people to visit the seaside, the railroad was a major factor in creating a need for swimwear.[8]
  • 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.”[9]
  • Fin Bikini Facts
    It's not a real bikini unless it can be “pulled through a wedding ring”

  • The bikini was worn for the first time by French model and nude dancer Micheline Bernardini for a poolside fashion show at the Piscine Molitor in Paris on July 5, 1946. She later received 50,000 fan letters.[8]
  • In 1936, Seamless Rubber Company introduced a new suit made from a crinkled rubber fabric called a “cloque.” The suits were hot, clammy and, to the delight of teenagers, had a tendency to peel off, even in mild waves.[9]
  • Topless men were banned from the beaches of Atlantic City in New Jersey because the city didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” It wasn’t until 1937 when men finally won the right to wear just swimming shorts without a shirt.[9]
  • The Hollywood Hays code, introduced in the 1930s, prohibited movie stars from showing navels on screen. Consequently, two-piece suits were high waisted with a brassiere-like top, which Jantzen called “Ladies Uplifter.”[9]
  • At the first Miss World competition in 1951, Kiki Hakansson of Sweden became the first and last to wear a bikini for her crowning ceremony. Her bikini-clad crowning prompted a condemnation from the pope, and countries such as Spain and Ireland threatened to withdraw from the event.[9]
  • The Rabbit Fur Breeders of Southern California donated furs to create a furry harlequin bathing suit in the early 1900s.[9]
  • The bikini was initially banned by predominantly Catholic countries.[9]
  • Interesting Mankini Fact
    A mankini is a sling-type swimsuit for men (Gpqs / Creative Commons)
  • A mankini, popularized in the 2006 film Borat, is a sling-like swimsuit worn by men.[9]
  • In 2005, American women spent almost $1.4 billion on two-piece bathing suits and swim separates.[2]
  • The U.S. women’s apparel industry is worth nearly $100 billion, of which swimwear is 2% at $2.2 billion (including one-pieces and accessories). The entire swimwear and beachwear market retail value is nearly $13 billion.[2]
  • Tan-through swimsuits are constructed of thousands of tiny pores that let enough sunlight in to create a tan-free line without appearing naked.[16]
  • Swimsuits now can be made from UV-protective fabrics. The suits can offer 50+ UPF, blocking up to 98% of the sun’s rays.[10]
  • The 1960 popular song “Itsy-Bitsy Teenie-Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” triggered bikini sales in the U.S. This song, coupled with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, helped mainstream the bikini in the U.S.[9]

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