1920-2010: Swimwear Evolution

Have you been going to the beach this Summer? What’s your favorite thing to wear? From one piece to bikinis, tankinis, burkinis, and more – swimwear nowadays is made with adversity in mind through both body types and culture, but how did it get to this point? Swimwear has been around for about a century now and boy has it gone through some major changes! Keep reading to find out more about the evolution of swimsuits over the past century.


Bathing suits with bloomers!? Yup, the 1920s set off a trend that went on for a couple of decades. Swimsuits back in the early 1900s were modest with skirts, bloomers, and black stockings – can you imagine getting your socks wet at the beach? “Racier” numbers were sleeveless and showed off your neckline.


Swimsuit skirts got a little bit shorter and all suits are now sleeveless and made in many different colors and styles. Women in this decade never forgot to top off their beach look with a little sun hat!


Suns out, buns out! This decade brings one-pieces with halter necks and short shorts connected to them. Paired with a formal updo – yes, to the beach – this look was the trend for beachgoers during the 40s.


The one-piece bathing suit makes its debut in the 50s! paired with a large sunhat and some flipflops, ladies in the 50s were flaunting their new stylish and chic swimwear during the summers at the beach.


Though the bikini was officially created in the late 40s, the 60s is when it became somewhat appropriate to rock it at the beach – with the fun, colorful – and even “trippy” – nature that the hippies are known for. Women often styled their halter bikini tops with matching shorts with attached belts.


In the 70s, bikinis were still on-trend and were usually worn with a cool kimono-like cover-up. This beach style was accompanied by big hair, big hats, and big sunglasses. In this decade, bikinis were somewhat more modernized and spaghetti straps were more on-trend than halter necks.


Flamboyant colors and prints, funky hairdos, cool sunglasses, and more. This swimwear style was definitely out there – just like the rest of the 80s. Bikini tops were usually made in a bralette style – and the halter neck is back! The tops were often paired with a matching or bright pair of cycling shorts that could be worn to the beach.


If one-pieces and bikini tops with denim shorts don’t scream 90’s beachwear I don’t know what does! These looks were definitely inspired by the grunge aesthetic in the 90s, especially when distressed denim shorts were worn.


One-pieces and bikinis alike were both worn in this decade. Open-sided one-pieces were definitely on-trend, as were fun animal or bohemian prints. Often these swimsuits were paired with long skirts as coverups to go to the beach.


From one piece to bikinis, tankinis, burkinis, and more – swimwear nowadays is made with adversity in mind through both body types and culture. It is just as common nowadays to see a modest swimsuit as you would a bikini and we love it! The world and society still have a long way to go – but we are happy to see progress and acceptance.



Omaya Michelle

  • Eclectic soul
  • Staying Mindful
  • Ardently Artistic