The Evolution of the Itsy Bitsy Bikini

By Melissa Gutierrez
Posted On Jun 29, 2016
The Evolution of the Itsy Bitsy Bikini

The bikini – a two-piece garment that captivates the wandering eye as well as embodying women’s empowerment and sensuality with every perfectly tied knot.

But, things were not always as itsy bitsy as they seem.

In fact, the bikini had an uphill battle against societal norms. As Modern Girl magazine put it in 1957, “it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing.”


The Evolution of the Bikini:


War rationing dictated that manufacturers reduce the amount of fabric they used; hence, the two-piece showcasing a sliver of midriff was born.

July 5, 1946:

A French engineer, Louis Reard, recognized the potential of the two-piece bathing suit; thus, designing a piece of garment “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Four days prior, the U.S. military conducted the first atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll. Hoping his new invention would be as dynamic as the atomic bomb, Reard dubbed his two-piece bathing suit, “bikini.”

July 11, 1946:

Micheline Bernardini, a showgirl, debuts Reard’s “bikini” at a popular swimming pool in the center of Paris.


The bikini was banned from worldwide beauty pageants after the first Miss World contest in London in 1951. Moreover, the scandalous bikini was banned in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Australia.


Brigitte Bardot popularizes the bikini at the Cannes Film Festival by sporting one on every beach in the South of France. Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe and Esther Williams follow Bardot’s cue.


The bikini makes cinema history when Swiss actress Ursula Andress, who played Honey Rider in the James Bond film Dr. No, emerges from the sea wearing a belted white bikini.

That same year, Playboy puts a bikini on the cover.


Raquel Welch dons a fur bikini in the film One Million Years BC. The poster became more prevalent than the film, which landed Welch as Playboy’s Most Desired Woman of the 1970s.


The bikini phenomenon is in full effect.


Carrie Fisher takes the bikini off the beach. In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia rocks a gold metal bikini that will spawn years’ worth of Halloween costumes.


The bikini grows smaller as G-strings migrate their way north to the United States from Brazil, nosa!


You already know.