When Rudi Gernreich, who created the topless bathing suit in 1964, was asked why he had designed such a piece of apparel, he said, "It's an abstract idea of what I believed was going to happen."
An anonymous 19th-century poem:
Bathing is a sport
Enjoyed by great and small
In suits of any sort
Though better none at all.
In 1949, LIFE published a story called "The Trouble with the Bikini." One of the photographs was of a 15-year-old girl with an unflattering mark on her tummy. The caption read: "Abdominal scars are revealed. This has caused many women, whose surgeons have left their stomachs looking like old golf balls, to shun the suits." After receiving a letter from the girl's irate father, LIFE printed this embarrassed reply: "LIFE'S apologies. The apparent scar was caused by creases on the negative."
In 1972 swimsuit designer Monika Tilley said of that year's revealing styles, "Bareness is the expression of our times."
In 1974, Gernreich invented the Thong, a Ban-Lon string to be worn in the style of a sumo wrestler's strap. When asked to philosophize about his Thong, he said, "Preferably you should have good-looking buttocks."