Swimsuits have evolved greatly throughout history. We went from full-length dresses that limited any swimming activity in the mid-1800’s, to skimpy teeny bikinis in the 21st century. However, like all trends, swimsuits come full circle when we see A-list celebs like Taylor Swift, and Kylie Jenner wearing the same high-waisted bikinis that Brigitte Bardot wore in the ‘60s.
Swimsuits were invented in the mid-1800s to fulfill a primary purpose: to cover a woman’s body in times where transportation improvements had finally made going to the beach a recreational activity.
Although these cumbersome full-length dresses limited women to only wading, not swimming in the water, they kept legs covered.
Skirts were weighted down with lead, and bloomers and stockings were worn underneath.
World War II rationing and the idolization of the hourglass figure lead to sleeker styles.
While two-piece swimsuits were common in the 40s, they usually covered a woman’s navel and left only a bit of midriff visible.
Swimsuits started to make voluptuous figures with built-in brassieres, stomach panels, and new stretch fabrics.
Though invented in 1946 by French designer Louis Reard, the navel-baring bikini didn’t become popular until the mid-60s.
Low slung bikini bottoms, accompanied by softer, skimpier tops with thinner straps were mainstream at the time.
The early 90s and Saved by the Bell were all about bold neons and graphic prints.
Swimwear fashion started a designer-obsessed decade that was all about California surf culture.
Sporty triangle tops and hipster's bottoms showcased a new surf girl style, while the rise of mix-and-match options allowed women to individualize.
Have you ever worn a swimsuit inspired by another era? Which one was your favorite? Today, swimsuits have become so skimpy that it’s hard to imagine our fellow gals under the sun in the 1800s with so many layers!