California Beaches


Birth of the Bikini

Make an educated guess as to when the bikini first was worn (or documented). If you guessed nearly 2,000 years ago, you'd be pretty close. The middle photo taken from a mural visitors can see at Villa Romana del Casale, built in the first quarter of the 4th century near Piazza Armerina in southern Italy. The mural shows about a dozen women wearing bikinis involved in outdoor activities. And we think we're so advanced today! Truth of the matter is that last year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina four girls were arrested and charged with indecent exposure for wearing thong bikinis on the beach. The first woman in the U.S. to break the swimsuit barrier was Annette Kellerman, who was arrested for wearing a one-piece swimsuit in 1907.

The modern era of bikinis started just after WWII, and actually got its name from Bikini Atoll, where over 20 nuclear weapons devices were detonated at test sites on the reef, on the sea, in the air or underwater. Bombs away! The bikini's modern day inventor couldn't find anyone but a strip dancer to model this flashy, new clothing that some thought was sensational and others saw as a disgrace. The photo on the left shows the only person willing to model the new suit. When the former nude dancer in Paris stepped out into the public for a showing she gave the audience a shock. Not everyone was quite so stunned by the skimpy attire. The bikini quickly became the uniform and cultural icon for girls going to California beaches.

In the right photo is actress (once married to President Ronald Reagan,) Jane Wyman, who wore her swimsuit on the beach somewhere in California (probably Santa Monica) in 1935 at age 18. The bikini, love it or not, is here to stay!

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info