Two-Piece Trends: How Swimwear Has Transformed Over Time

beautiful woman in vintage two-piece swimwear bikini

Trends and societal norms in many parts of the world heavily influence fashion. For the most part, it’s about expressing yourself and your style through your dressing, and yes, this also goes for swimwear. As the summer season approaches, the question that looms over ladies everywhere is: What swimwear should I go for?

There are countless styles and patterns to choose from, right from coy and girly to bold and sexy. You could cover up just enough yet dare to bare in a statement monokini or choose just to be free and express your style in a classic bikini. Interestingly, even the two-piece bikinis have so many variations. In recent years, bright colors and tropical prints have become cult favorites and for all the right reasons!

However, there’s more to the story of swimwear; there’s the tale of the evolution of swimwear over time. Women weren’t always adept at wearing bikinis. There was a time when a swimsuit covered more than a mini dress would. Times have changed and so has swimwear fashion, going from conservative to contemporary over the years.

Evolution of Swimwear Over Time

Let’s look at the evolution of swimwear and how we’ve arrived at the quintessential bikini today:

Swimwear in the 1800s

Believe it or not, swimwear in the 1800s had multiple layers, high necks, full sleeves, and felt more like dresses and less of suits. Few women pursued swimming as a sport or hobby and those who did had to wear elaborate layers and make the most of it while swimming. And yes, it was inconvenient and rather pointless, but society granted women only that much freedom during this era. It’s only in the following decades post the 1800s that swimwear became more convenient to wear.

Entering the 1900s

In this era, the layers finally began to reduce, and the long dresses became shorter too. Women became more vocal about their choices, but swimsuits still had longer sleeves and even collars.

In the 1910s, there was a revolution of sorts when Annette Kellerman became the first woman who swam across the English channel. She wore a body-hugging swimsuit, sans any collars or loose layers, and that caused quite a stir! However, she was brave enough to stand by her choice of attire, and this sparked a certain social change.

But in the 1920s and 30s, romper suits and open necks were in fashion. Either knee length or thigh length jumpsuits were worn by models, who during this time began in a swimwear round! As the stigma around swimsuits was visibly reducing, bathing suits were becoming more of a style statement.

By the 1940s and 50s, women of all shapes and sizes were beginning to embrace the swimsuit in all its beauty! Right from swimwear to lingerie, both patterns and sizes were seeing more inclusivity. Women with larger hips or bigger busts who needed a 34DD bra size were looking to wear two-piece swimsuits that bared more skin and made them feel more confident. This was the decade when everyone loved bright colors and polka dots, and high-waist bikinis first came on the scene. Of course, those are back in fashion again even today.

The 1960s

beautiful woman in vintage bathingsuit - two-piece swimwear trends

The 1960s marks an important decade for two-piece bikinis. Women were finally comfortable with bearing their stomachs and opting for smaller tops that showed more cleavage. By this time, swimsuits were the acceptable attire for swimming and at beaches. And women were much more comfortable with being bold and sexy. The feminist movement was also in full swing during this time, and freedom of expression naturally extended to attire. The “women can wear whatever they want to” movement changed a lot for the bathing suit industry, which was finally getting to create a niche of its own!

The 80s and 90s

This was when the swimsuit round was in full swing for pageants, and the issue of what women can or cannot wear while swimming had almost vanished. In fact, women in colorful swimsuits were being celebrated, and the monokini became more experimental too. Fashion icons all over the world were wearing tiny white bikinis, which was the most popular trend during this time. “The smaller the bikini, the better” they’d say, and high leg bikinis that made the legs look longer were the talk of the town!

Enter the 2000s

By the 2000s it wasn’t just about what a swimsuit covered, but more about how versatile it was. Swimsuit tops would double up as beachwear, paired with skirts and shorts. Beachwear attire became a whole different line of fashion, and bold, pop colors were the most in trend.

Swimsuits Today

beautiful woman two-piece swimwear

Today, anything goes! Whatever you’re comfortable in, and whatever reflects your style the most, and it doesn’t matter how much skin you prefer to show or cover. Metallics and glamorous designs are making waves this summer, and you can expect to see more of the Bardot and off-shoulder styles too!

Looking for more great fashion history? Read this!

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