• The History of the Swimsuit

    The History of the Swimsuit

    Shopping for a bathing suit? Which do you prefer, a sexy bikini, a retro one piece or a form fitting tankini?

    Women have a smorgasbord of swimwear options that allow them to cover, or uncover, as much as they want. But this hasn’t always been the case when it comes to female swimsuits. Throughout history, swimsuits have gone from full covering wool dresses to barely there coverings on our lady bits. 

  • 1850's


    Photo Credit: Victoriana.com

    For those who think a one piece is too much coverage, the bathing dresses of the Victorian era seem extreme. However, these pieces were revolutionary for women at the time. The wool tunics over long skirts or bloomers were too heavy for swimming, but it allowed women to enjoy the ocean’s fresh air. 

  • 1907


    Photo Credit: TheRosevelts.com

    Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman caused a scandal when she swam across the English Channel in a tight fitting one-piece with, gasp, short sleeves. This suit helped paved the way for women to show more skin around the arms and neck.

  • 1920's


    Photo Credit: Library of Congress

    Jantzen, a small company from Portland, introduced the wool-swimming suit. The style took off in the 1920's, causing decency arrests on public beaches everywhere. 

  • 1930's


    Photo Credit: Glamoursplash.com

    Swimsuits begin to appear in halter-tops and low back styles, mimicking the lines of glamorous evening gown.

  • 1940's


    Photo Credit: Time, Marie Claire

    Swimsuits became ultra-feminine in halter-tops with skirted bottoms. Due to a fabric shortage during the War, swimsuits shrunk in size.

  • 1946


    Photo Credit: Time 

    The first bikini is invented by Louis Reard! Hawt!

  • 1950's


    Photo Credit: Labels and Vintage.com

    Pin up styles became de rigeur. Apron styles, suits that sit over the stomach and thighs, come in halter and strapless styles.

  • Early 1960s

    Early 1960s

    Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated; Columbia Pictures CinemaScope

    An obsession with teen beach parties rules Western films. Swimsuits become itsy, bitsy and teenie weenie.

  • 1970's


    Photo Credit: Time

    The “Tanga” swimsuit, the thong swimsuit, begins to appear on beaches. For those less daring, crotchet and mesh are added to swimwear styles.

  • 1980's


    Photo Credit: Cole of California, Il Piacere

    For 80's babes, it’s all about the V-kini, a high leg line suit with plunge necklines that came in both bikini and one-piece variations.

  • Mid 1990's

    Mid 1990's

    Photo Credit: Yahoo

    Athletic ware influences the swimsuit. Baywatch continued the high leg-line trend, and necklines became square.

  • Late 1990's

    Late 1990's

    Photo Credit: AnneCole.com

    The Tankini is invented by swimwear designer Anne Cole.

  • Early 2000's

    Early 2000's

    Photo Credit: Victoria Secret; Rose Cha

    Mirroring the jean trend, leg lines move down and become low rise. Coincidently, Brazilian waxes become more popular than ever.

  • Today


    Photo Credit: VintageDancer, Modest Sea.com; Victoria Secret

    From tiny bikinis to full bodied suits, swimwear options are available to everyone and for everybody. 

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