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Notable swimwear trends throughout history

Notable swimwear trends throughout history impact the way we design suits today. Swimwear in the early 1900’s was nothing like what you’ll find in 2017 Swimwear trends. Suits for women were super-conservative and wearing a head-to-toe swimsuits landed women in jail!

Just a century ago, wearing a swimsuit in public was a crime.

Luckily, times have changed. 

Join us as we share the most notable swimwear trends throughout history. In this article we’re sharing highlights from important historical events that impacted swimwear fashion as we know it today.

Notable swimwear trends throughout history

Annette Kellerman, rebel, female, first female to,In 1907 Annette Kellerman, an professional swimmer, actress, and business woman from Australia, wore a one piece in public and was arrested for public indecency. Although most people today would consider the swimsuit she was arrested wearing as more of a full-piece diving suit, Annette gained a lot of attention for being a rebellious beach goer. We can thank Annette for getting the ball rolling on swimwear through the decades.

Tan skin: a new trend…SPANGLISH

The 1910s changed swimsuit norms for the better. Since this decade, women rights began moving forward. Women began embracing fashions showing more skin. As a result of exposure to the sun, tan skin began to represent wealth. Before long, the desire for sun-kissed glow sent more women, wearing less clothing, to the beach to get their own stylish glow.

The 1920s marked the decade of fringe and flappers. Women began showing a bit more skin on the beach. Female rebels often wore stockings and shoes to the beach. The swimwear of the decade was often designed in wool. As you can imagine, wool became heavy when wet.

And as if heavy, wool suits weren’t enough to deal with, beach police continued considering some instances of suit wearing a crime! The beach police began to measure the amount of exposure of swimming suits, fining any lawbreakers at least $10 (about $120 today) and jail time.

Finally, swimsuits with leg holes!

notable swimwear trends throughout history including the Louis-Reard Bikini
courtesy of wikipedia

In the 1930s, form fitting latex swimwear gained enormous popularity. Bust lines were shaped with a ‘molded fit’ with bottoms made of elastic rubber bands.

While bathing suits were still one piece, backless fashions made a debut. Legs everywhere rejoiced as a new upper thigh cut helped create more body definition and allowed women to move freely in the water. About time!

The bikini arrives…

 notable swimwear trends throughout history the bikini and influence of Bryan Hyland
courtesy of

The 1940s welcomed the bikini in 1946. The name “bikini” was assigned to the look from the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll. Thanks to this wonderful fashion invention, designers like Floridita Swimwear are free to design cute handmade bikinis today! But popularity didn’t strike as soon as the Parisian designer Louis Réard debuted the new style. Many woman continued to prefer their belly button covered. Anticipating the upcoming trend, corset manufacturers took advantage of the popularity of strapless swimwear styles, carving out a new direction in bikini fashion.

Post-war 1950s style was greatly impacted by the huge supply of textiles. Curvy one piece suits became the emphasis of manufacturers and similar curvy accessories, like cat eye sunglasses, were born. Bikinis began gaining popularity.

The 1960s brought inspiration to beach style thanks to Bryan Hyland’s song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. Due to the popularity of the song, sales for two piece suits rose in popularity. California rock and roll style also impacted designers, who embraced flashy skin-showing suits. Modesty made an exit. We’re forever grateful.

Suits get super sexy…

1970s sexual revolution impacted suit fashion. The “Tanga suit” – aka the string bikini – was released. Cover-ups also rose in popularity, revealing just glimpses of bold string bikinis. Bright swimsuits that inspire our cute neon bikinis increased in popularity as women realized the colors highlighted sexy curves.

The 1980s welcomed the invention of the thong. Some believe the thong tops the list of notable swimwear trends throughout history. In Europe the fashion was embraced, but the look was still considered by many as taboo in the United States. Alternatively, the US saw an increase in colorful patterns and graphic styles.

Iconic, sporty swimsuits emerge…

Swimwear Through the Decades Baywatch inspiration
courtesy of baywatch photography

The 1990s swimwear styles paid tribute to Baywatch as inspiration. Sporty looks were “in” as well as a dramatic, high-cut leg. At the same time, another one of the most notable swimwear trends throughout history emerged. The Tankini (half bikini, half tank top) captured 1/3 of the United States swimwear industry sales.

The 2000s welcomed lots and lots of skin. Celebrities appeared in the magazines nearly nude.

Handmade designs of today…

Today’s beach, resort and pool fashion is impacted by unique swimwear designers like Floridita Swimwear. With a deep understanding of historical suit trends, we help women find their swim style to embrace their own unique, colorful and inspired beach looks.

Notable swimwear trends throughout history have led to unique elements like hand-embroidered and hand-beaded accents that we include on our suits. Our passion is creating head-turning handmade suits that make you feel confident and sexy.

Charlotte, the owner and designer,of Floridita Swimwear, is paving the way for influential suit trends.The decades that impact her South Beach Collection design choices the most are from the 80s and 90s. Charlotte’s personally chosen color palette includes unique combinations that reference sunsets, ocean hues, and tropical flowers. Fun prints with iconic symbols include flamingo bikinis and pineapple swimsuits.

Also a trained marine biologist, Charlotte has built a swimwear fashion line based in and inspired by the beaches Florida. Our extensive line of bikinis, monokinis, and accessories are named after Florida landmarks and wildlife.

We hope you’ve enjoyed highlights from swimwear through the decades. There’s a suit for every woman to express herself, feel pretty and look amazing in our collection. You’ll find our suits worn by beautiful women from Florida to California, the Caribbean to France, and throughout beaches worldwide.

To learn about the latest swimwear trends, join our email list. Charlotte will be featured in an upcoming post, discussing her everyday motivations and fashion influences. You won’t want to miss it!

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