Historical swimwear: how the beach evolved

With the arrival of summer, it is time to pick your swimsuit style. Vogue reviewed the inspiration in time.

There is no doubt that we have come a long way since Victorian bathing suits. Since the beginning of the 20th century, swimwear fashion has made progress in all aspects: the hem has risen, then rises, and then rises; the single piece has evolved into two; shorts into shorts; corsets; straps string.

We go from wool to rayon, cotton, nylon to elastic fiber. Today we swim with high-tech synthetic materials designed to sculpt our bodies on the beach and streamline us as we cross the water. (Although the photo-friendly ones currently seen on Instagram, the velvet and embellished swimwear and the early 20th-century woollen sweater design are perfect for swimming.)

Looking back on the history of the swimwear, it is clear that we have been trying to look good on the beach. In some ways, we made ourselves more difficult over time – for example, in the 1950s, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly wore a waist-emphasizing single piece and bikini outfits compared to barely worn garments. It is much easier to have the style of the seventies and eighties.

But from the golden age of Hollywood stars wearing belted clothing to the modern supermodel’s minimalist black bikini, they all have one thing in common: they are the height of fashion. Choose your favorite swimwear era and watch the evolution of the beach style here.