The evolution of the swimsuit

People flock to beaches all over the world to wash away the stress of work and upgrade the dreary view offered by 4 concrete walls. Perhaps they’re searching for tranquility and relaxation enjoyed with a book under the brolly in their cutest hat and shades, or perhaps they want to escape to the world under water and absorb all the colours. Frolicking in the salty spray of the ocean, catching a wave or bronzing up on a deckchair are some of the activities that men and women alike have been doing for centuries.

And while this all sounds amazing and we can’t wait to get to the beach, it’s quite interesting how a simple swimsuit has evolved – from being a bathing suit to the fashion statement that it is today.

Here is a quick timeline of the evolution of the swimsuit, just in case you were wondering.

1800s: It started with your great great granny

In the 1800s and early 1900s women’s clothing covered almost 90% of their bodies. And the same applied to their swimsuits. The reason was simple, they didn’t want to give men the wrong impression of themselves. So, they literally waded through the water in suits which resembled dresses, some even sewed weights into the hems, so that nothing would be accidentally revealed.


1920s: A little exposure never hurt

Remember reading (or watching) The Great Gatsby? Now this era had a major fashion overhaul and outfits, including swimsuits exposed quite a lot more skin and clung tighter, showing off their sexy curves a lot more. Although the suits weren’t allowed to be shorter than six inches above the knees, they were definitely more liberating.


1930s: Your great granny had style

Swimsuits of the ‘30s really shaped the way in which swimsuits were styled for the rest of swimsuit history, even today. One-piece backless cossies became all the rage, exposing more skin than ever before. So naughty.


1940s: Glam one-pieces and the birth of the bikini

The full costume remained a firm favourite, however, more designers started incorporating elements of the current clothing trends, such as halter necks, corsets and the like. Nobody expected the birth of the bikini in 1946. And everybody was completely smitten when it did finally arrive.


1950s: Making a statement

Ladies started becoming more and more confident and stepping out in a full cossie or a bikini became very popular. While the look of the swimsuits didn’t change drastically, there was a definite change in the way women accessorised their swimwear. Rubber swimming caps with large flowers and oversized sunglasses became all the rage.


1960s: Bearing it all

The ‘60s was an era where everything changed for the swimsuit. The bikini was out in full force, now just a little lower and even tighter. Overbearing fabric was out and showing off skin was in.


1970s: Showing off and experimenting

During this time, designers experimented with the look of the cossies. High-cut, full costumes were quite fashionable. While the bikini continued to steal the show. Well, whatever material there was of it.


1980s: Neons and brights and high-waisted delights

There are some that say that the ‘80s fashion was some of the best fashion ever. Then there are those who would completely disagree. Whichever side you’re on, you can thank this era for those bright neon oranges and greens and pinks. Even the swimsuits were designed with neon prints. And super high waistlines.


1990s: Adjusting your attitude

The ‘90s fashion wasn’t very far off from the previous era. There were only a few changes made to the functional aspects of the bikini top – such as being adjustable. So now ladies could make sure that they fitted as perfectly and were as comfortable in their costume tops as they were in their own underwear.


2000s: There here and now

Today, we have a plethora of cossie styles to choose from. From the bare-all-hide-nothing bikini to the full-costume-with-built-in-skirt. Women today embrace their curves and their bodies and work really hard at keeping in shape. Ladies are encouraged to love themselves for who and what they are and to be comfortable in their own skin, as well as their bathing suits.


So whether, you love to show it all off or cover it all up. If you’re more of a sporty swimsuit wearer or just a conservative sunbather, there is a whole history of costume styles to choose from thanks to your forefathers (or is it foremothers?)

Get your swimsuit on, and be Club Med happy.