Swimwear Through The Decades

It’s no secret that fashion changes throughout the decades and swimwear is no exception. From the secure swimming dresses of the 20’s to the tantalizing thong bikinis of the 70’s, swimwear has certainly evolved. Today we’re going to be diving into the pool of evolution for the swimsuit. Are you ready to get wet? 


Whilst the roaring 20’s bought us the iconic, and slightly daring, knee-skimming flapper dress, swimwear still remained a little more modest.  Women were encouraged to wear full bathing suits which were pioneered by an Australian swimmer named Annette Kellerman.


These full bathing suits were still considered a step up from the former sea-side dresses which covered every inch of a woman’s body. Women’s swimwear had to change due to the rise in popularity of women swimming for sport. Some beaches, however, still insisted women covered their legs. 


The evolution of swimwear took on a whole new form in the 30’s due to the Adamson Brothers inventing Lastex, a type of elastic yarn. The initial designs remained similar to that of the 20’s but the nature of the rubber material allowed for more comfort and shaping. 


The 40’s brought the birth of the very first bikini, invented in 1946 by a brave French fashion designer, Louis Réard. This daring two-piece was unveiled at the Piscine Molitor, an iconic swimming pool in Paris. After the unveiling swimwear started to get tighter. 


Due to improved fabrics, including nylon and elastic, swimwear in the 50’s really started to take shape. These new fabrics allowed for better stretch and faster drying times.  Zips were used at the back of the swimsuits to maintain the corset-like structure of the suits. 


Although the first bikini was made in 1946 they didn’t gain mainstream popularity until the 60’s. Lycra became a popular fabric of choice making the previously used zips now redundant. This upgrade made swimwear more convenient.  


The saucy seventies gave birth to sexy swimwear, the less material the better. The bikinis got narrower and contained less material and the first G-string bikinis made an appearance. The ultimate aim was shock and awe. 


The 1980’s was all about aesthetic experiments, low necklines and high legs were the name of the game. Colors became brighter, with neons and animal prints being firm favorites. 


We cannot mention 90’s swimwear without mentioning Baywatch. The vision of Micth and C.J. running scantily clad on a serene beach will forever remain indelibly etched into our psyche.  It was arguably the most iconic show of the decade and had a huge influence on swimwear at the time. Mix-and-match swimwear was also highly popular.  


The tankini was rated the most desirable swimwear of the noughties. This more modest approach to swimwear was a stark contrast to previous decades where exposing as much skin as possible was the desired outcome. 


In modern times it appears anything goes with swimwear. There are no hard and defined rules when it comes to swimming attire. Although saying that the majority of the designs found today are influenced by past decades.   

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