Before we hit the pool or shore this season, we're taking a look back at how the swimsuit has evolved through the years. From wool shorts to corsets, this might be what you need to appreciate your faithful tankini.
One hundred years ago, swimsuits were practically
We start to see the modern one-piece silhouette come into play with a more streamlined look and a dash of whimsy (like the striped detail). One thing that's still a holdover of older swimwear trends is the shoes worn, designed to protect the wearer from seashells and rocks.
1921: A Scandalous Look
Hems are getting higher, which is liberating for bathers and something that the police apparently needed to get involved in. Welcome to the age of bathing suit laws, where one must be measured before being legally allowed to enjoy the day.
1925: Movie Star Swimwear
Hello, legs! The leg is cut even higher in the 1930s, while stylistic trends (like bows and collars) expand swimwear choices. Men's suits are also cut with a high leg, with a tank top resembling a running or wrestling singlet.
Of course, the rise of modern swimwear coincides with the rise of modern accessories. Here, sunglasses and cute sandals complete the ensemble for one Florida trendsetter.
1936: High-End Materials
In this era of swimwear, new synthetic fabrics and wool were common. However, very high-end swimsuits (like this one worn by film star Ida Lupino) could be found that used touches of silk. Perhaps these were for
1938: Sporty Swimsuit
Unlike Ida's silk swimwear, some women demanded designs that were functional yet pretty. Such was the case for bodybuilder Relna Brewer, who
Though the skimpy bikini as we know it wouldn't be introduced until 1946, some midriff-bearing designs could be seen on the market prior to that watershed moment. This simple halter and
But not everyone was into the two-piece. These darling one-pieces were simple, but definitely not plain.
1949: Sleeker Silhouettes
Men ditch the tank top, though still wore trunks with higher waists than we're used to today. Meanwhile, women's swimwear sticks to the one-piece often with a skirt effect over the thigh.
1949: The Latest Trends
Here, you can see that "skirted" trend (really, just a longer panel in the front that created the illusion of a skirt) in this group of women happily
Ruching and a sweetheart neckline make for a very '50s look that's still being replicated today.
Not-so-bare two-pieces rise in popularity, with bottoms that generally hovered around the belly button.
1953: Fashion Show
The 1950s were also a fanciful time for swimsuit design, as seen in this French fashion show. Oui, there is a bikini or two in the mix, but also a heavily corseted swimsuit with a star-spangled skirt.
1954: Fur Sure
Fashion also went in an unwearable direction, with swimsuits made entirely of fur.
Metallic lamé fabrics brought glamour to swimwear in this era. This very fabulous mermaid-inspired suit (the cups are shells!) was made out of the glittering material.
Covered in faux flowers, this bikini gives new meaning to the term "bloomers."
1960s: Structured and Strapless
The structured silhouettes of the '50s crept into the early '60s, with supportive strapless bras and high-waisted bottoms.
The pattern was a
1965: Pastel Patterns
Natalie Wood models an on-trend Y-neck halter done in the fun pastels of the era.
In the '70s, bikinis get smaller and less structured. This simple white suit wouldn't be out of place on a 2017 beach.
What to wear with your minimal bikini? Big sunglasses.
Playful patterns make this family the most stylish at the beach. Here, we can see that men's suits haven't changed too much from the late '40s look—the higher-waist is still here, but the fabric is not as bulky at least.
One-pieces were still worn in the decade, with asymmetrical necklines and the very '70s
1980: Dramatic Back
But if we had to pick an era for statement suits, it would have to be the '80s. This one-piece is distinguished by bold gathered details on the back.
1980: Sporty Looks
No, tankinis didn't debut in the '90s. These midriff-baring tops were paired with high-cut or string-style bottoms.
1983: Plunging Neckline
Jamie Lee Curtis models another common look for swimwear of the '80s: Plunging necklines.
The high-cut legs of the '80s still were very much a part of '90s swimsuit fashion. Combined with cutout details, a one-piece could be just as risqué as a bikini.
1995: Buckle Up
A timelessly flattering silhouette doesn't need much to look fabulous, but a skinny belt adds an unobtrusive detail.
1998: The Tankini
Tankinis took off in the late '90s, whether it went in a high-fashion look with a squared neckline and boyshorts, or simple with a cami-style top and traditional bikini bottoms.
1999: Vintage-Inspired Suits
Proving that every look eventually comes back, these cute swimsuits nodded to the skirted styles of decades past.
1999: Boyshorts For The Win
2001: More Tankinis, Please
The tankini proves that it's not a passing trend, with more and more opting for this fuller-coverage but fun style.
2009: Sporty Chic
Perhaps inspired by the 2008 Summer Olympics, sportier one-piece styles were one of the more popular looks during the later years of the first decade of the 2000s. The one-piece continues to evolve in the 2010s, and now enjoys the distinction of surpassing the bikini in popularity!
The body-positive movement gets stronger thanks to the rise of social media, bringing exciting and diverse voices to the forefront of fashion. In this decade, a "beach body" is not achieved by punishing workout and diet regimes—it's about simply putting on a bathing suit you love and enjoying your day in the sun.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.