A Petite’s Chronicle thru the Centuries PART-1 of a Trilogy

Take this fascinating walk with me thru the centuries to find out how this whole “swim wear, bathing-suit, one-piece, bikini” fad started in the first place, it just might surprise you!

Petite Swimwear – Bathing Suit Beginnings…and Bygones!

Summer is fast approaching and whether you live on the East Coast, the WestCoast, or somewhere in between, you’re more than likely going to put on a bathing suit for the beach, pool or vacation getaway! For petite women all around the task of finding a bathing suit, whether a one-piece or a bikini is something dreaded each and every year.

We, unlike the Amazonian women of the world, not only have to keep our eye on the fashion trend for that year (hoping it’s not a LOUD or too large of a print), but worry about whether or not the “new look” will warrant our petite physique (we can’t all look like the gorgeous, “2009 Sports-Illustrated-swimsuit Edition, speed-petite-racer, “Danica Patrick,” who stands perfectly at 5’2! – Don’t I wish!).

As I sit here researching the antiquity of the “bathing suit,” and remembering all the years I walked around the California beaches with that ever so annoying booty-sag (after my bathing suit got wet), I’m reminded that we are indeed, no matter what size, fashion-fortunate to have evolved from the 18th century “bathing gowns” and “bathing machine” bygones – YES, you heard me correctly…“Bathing-GOWNS!”

Bathing Suit Beginnings – A Petite Mess!

A “bathing gown” is somewhat self-explanatory, but the details just may make you say, “HUH?”

These gowns were made of wool, covering the entire body and sewn with leadweights in the hem so it would not rise in the water (Oh my…God forbid!). There were many layers to this spectacle of a bathing suit, which included a hat and shoes, buttons up to the neck and stockings down to your ankles …can you even imagine? Because of the “opposite sex,” one mustn’t show their skin!

I don’t know about you, but I would have been one cranky petite-biatch if I had to wear this garb, in the heat, just so every Tom, Dick and Harry wouldn’t pitch a tent…in their DRAWERS! Yeah, as with any “Century,” you always have your “lookie-lou’s” and some perverted, slavering moron trying to catch a glimpse from a telescope – the beach, back in the day, was a breeding ground for “peeping-Tom’s.” (Well, guess that hasn’t changed much). Although, one would think their arousing desire would be curtailed by even the thought of peeping at women in a “bathing gown” since there wasn’t much to see. I guess men… will be men – in any Century, LOL!

Etiquette-schmetiquette – I’d say, “Send me back to ancient Greece,” where nude bathing was the norm, or even back to ancient Rome where swimwear was, surprisingly, very similar to the modern-day Bikini, as showcased in a mosaic wall from a classical Sicilian villa.

Unless you’re Eva Longoria, who stands at a mighty sexy 5’1”, and who can, evidently, wear anything and look gorgeous, I’m imagining most Petite women who had to wear this “gown,” looked atrocious!

Interesting factoid:

Despite the unsightly swimwear gowns, the first Miss America winner back in 1921 was Margaret Gorman, a “petite” look-a-like to silent screen goddess 5’0″ Mary Pickford, proving there’s no covering up a petite beauty!  Written by: Tana Corporon


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  1. Good Lord Danica!!! Living in Indiana, the month of May and the hype around "the 500" is one of the few things to do around here, unless you like watching corn grow. I haven't seen that picture of her! I follow her sort-of, you can't help but not to if you are a Hoosier! She is for sure one of your "Petite Powerhouses". My kids and I live at the pool in the summer, the one good thing about having four daughters that wear your size is we all have several different suits we all can switch around. However, I am always amazed how much a smidgeon of material and bit of elacstic costs. 11 more days of school and we are ready for the sun!!! Great article!

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