July 5th is the Bikini Anniversary!

July 5, 2012    |    By +
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Did you know that the modern bikini made its debut at public pool in Paris on July 5, 1946. That makes our beach basic 66 years old this week! Bikinis were invented by the French engineer and designer Louis Réard as a reaction to seeing women roll up their bulky swimsuits to get a better tan. The bikini was named after Bikini Atoll where the Operations Crossroads weapon tests were held by the United States (Réard was said to have thought the style would be equally explosive).

The invention of the bikini marked a bold fashion choice that became a sign of women’s increasing empowerment in an ever-changing society. While bikinis today look a lot different than the first in 1946, the Bikini Anniversary celebrates all shapes and sizes of this swimsuit, and thanks Réard for its creation.

The first bikini was skimpy and most resembles current shapes; styles that directly followed covered more skin. The bikinis of the 1950s were high-wasted and cut straight on the leg with a corset like shape; the look was designed to look like an apron or dress. With the turbulent 1960s, bikini’s showed more skin. The legs were cut much higher and waists started dropping.

A few pop cultural milestones really drove the bikini into the main stream.

1. Ursula Andress’s white bikini in Dr.No in 1962.

2. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue first published in 1964.

3. And, my favorite, Brian Hyland’s song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie yellow Polka Dot Bikini”


The 1970s brought upon the modern string bikini. Although the 1980s and ‘90s offered similar shapes, they cut the legs high and experimented with bright patterns and colors and different fabrics. Currently, the string bikini is still champion. Another huge trend for 2012 is retro style bikinis that celebrate the 1950s higher waisted silhouette. Spend today at the beach or pool showing off your favorite bikini.

*thank you Wikipedia for all of the great information on the history of the bikini!

Images in our visual tour of the history of the bikini come from:

1946courtesy of Huliq 

1950scourtesy of Writing Prompts for Writers

1960scourtesy of One Sweet Lemon

1970scourtesy of Hubpages

1980s & 1990scourtesy of Whosdatedwho

Todaycourtesy of Push Up Bathing Suits

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Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at Gifts.com. She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at Gifts.com. In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.