A bikini is a type of women's
bathing suit, characterized
by two separate parts;
one covering the breasts, the other the groin and buttocks,
leaving an uncovered area between the two garments.
garments worn by women for athletic purposes have been observed
on Greek urns and paintings, dated as early as 1400 BC.
The modern bikini was invented by engineer Louis Reard
in Paris in 1946 (introduced on July 5), and named after
Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall
Islands, on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it
would cause would be like the atomic bomb.
Reard's suit was a refinement of the work of Jacques
Heim who, two months earlier, had introduced the "Atome"
(named for its size) and advertised it as the world's "smallest
bathing suit". Reard split the "atome" even
smaller, but could not find a model who would dare to wear
his design. He ended up hiring Micheline Bernardini, a nude
dancer from the Casino de Paris, as his model.
It took fifteen years for the bikini to be accepted in
United States. In 1951
bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest. In 1957,
however, Brigitte Bardot's bikini in And God Created
Woman created a market for the swimwear in the US,
and in 1960, Brian Hyland's pop song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie
Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" inspired a bikini-buying
spree. Finally the bikini caught on, and by 1963, the movie
Beach Party, starring Annette Funicello and Frankie
Avalon, led a wave of films that made the bikini a pop-culture
In recent years, the term monokini has come
into use for topless bathing by women: where the bikini
has two parts, the monokini is the lower part. Where monokinis
are in use, the word bikini may jokingly refer
to a two-piece outfit consisting of a monokini and a sun
hat. The term was coined by Rudi Gernreich.
The tankini is a swimsuit combining a
tank top and a bikini bottom.
The lower part of the bikini was further reduced in size
in the 1980s to the Brazilian
thong, where the back of the suit is so thin that it
disappears into the buttocks. Recently bikinis have been
getting smaller. This trend started with the top piece,
but after shrinking the top so much that it barely covers
the nipples, swimsuit manufacturers have moved on to reducing
the size of the bottom piece. One can see the trend toward
reduction in the following styles:
and, what could be called a double g-string, the