How Swimsuits Have Changed Throughout History (It’s Great That 2010 Is in the Past)

Girls stuff
3 years ago

Until the end of 18th century, people bathed either in their underwear or naked, and they had no idea that they even needed a specific item of clothing for it. But things changed a lot when people began to travel as tourists. Since the moment the first swimsuits appeared, they had to withstand the real test of time. In this article, you will see the process of emancipation of women and how it affected changes in swimwear.

Since beach season has already started, Bright Side decided to make a brief historical overview of this important piece of beachwear.


With the emergence of railway transport, people could easily cover thousands of miles and this helped tourism and the development of popular resorts. But the representatives of higher classes were not used to undressing in public. So, there was a need for clothing items that they could spend time on the beach in. The first swimsuit for women consisted of a dress and wide pants, while men bathed in knee-long trunks and a top that covered their hairy chests.

Another interesting detail of the beach lifestyle from the beginning of the 20th century was a bathing machine which was a place where people could change out of their normal clothes and into their swimsuits. People entered the bathing machine, changed their clothes there, and then waded into the ocean. Machines were moved along the rails with the help of horses.


In later years, the swimwear fashion was influenced by the Olympics. When swimming became an official sport of the games, it was obvious that big swimsuits prevented athletes from achieving the best results. In 1912, female swimmers surprised the public with their revealing swimsuits showing their arms and legs. Of course, after that many women wanted to follow their example, and swimwear became more revealing.


In the 1930s, the appearance of swimsuits was similar to those from the previous decade but they started to be made in a variety of different colors. Also, thanks to Coco Chanel, tanned skin became trendy and women began to add different accessories to underline their tan. Men were now allowed to show their chest and wear shorts.


World War II transformed all areas of life, including swimwear. It was necessary to reduce the quantity of fabric for clothing production. That was how 2-piece swimsuits came to be.

Louis Réard, who ran an underwear family business, noticed that women often rolled up their swimsuits for a better tan. That inspired him to create the bikini. In 1946, he introduced this new model of a swimsuit for women. The reaction of the public was controversial because people were not ready for such a revealing item of clothing.


But the movie industry adopted the bikini immediately because girls in revealing swimsuits attracted audiences and provided a good box office return. The first woman who dared to show up in a revealing swimsuit was the charming Brigitte Bardot.


In the 1960s, fashionistas chose different models of swimsuits, but the main thing was that swimwear was now made of new elastic and a fast-drying material called Lycra.


By the 1970s, women couldn’t resist the bikini any longer and started buying this small swimsuit which was so convenient for getting the perfect tan. The manufacturers were so inspired with the demand for this model, that they began to add “kini” to all other swimsuit models. That was how the monokini appeared — a sideless one-piece swimsuit.


In the 1980s, one-piece swimsuits were back in fashion because pool parties became popular. However, those who were trying to get tan still preferred the bikini, which just became smaller.


In the 1990s, the Baywatch TV show was extremely popular all over the world. Many people were fond of the episode where Pamela Anderson and her colleagues were running along the beach in slow motion. It’s no wonder that the red one-piece swimsuit of Baywatch became one of the most popular models.


In the 2000s, the mini-bikini was ranked first in popularity again. But it was now combined with a pareo of different sizes, from a short skirt to a big cloth which could be transformed into a dress or a long skirt.


2010 was the year when the most uncomfortable swimsuit model — the monokini — was back in fashion. Yes, they looked glamorous but they ruined your tan. Another difficult model was the bandeau (most frequently strapless) which only looked good on certain body types.


This year, the most fashionable models are high-waisted retro swimsuits, sporty swimwear in neon colors, and a classic bikini for a perfect tan.

Which swimwear style do you like the most?

Preview photo credit EAST NEWS, i s k r a / instagram


1950s also looks great, really gentle and stylish. I think such swimsuits would look good nowadays
I'm really happy that the style evolved and women can reveal more of their bodies, but if such swimsuits from 1940s were sold right now, I would really buy it ?
The 1940s style can be real cute too! Imagine wearing it with polka dots pattern ?

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