From peaky to perky: the evolution of the swimsuit 


If you’ve ever spent much time thinking about swimsuits, it’s probably in dread of buying a new bikini. Or marvelling at the anniversary edition Barbie and her 40’s swimsuit. Yet the evolution in swimwear from the 80s to now has been massive (and fun). Let’s take a closer look!

Early Suits

When you think of early bathing suits, your mind probably skips to the quaint swimming trunks of Victorian-era England. Yet it took us until the 1930s to dare to bear enough skin to truly call it a ‘one-piece swimsuit’. And frankly? The Maillot swimsuit was quite rocking! As we become more sun conscious, you could easily take that baby to the modern beach and no one would notice!

The 1940s brought us the bikini revolution, ironically caused by fabric shortages. If you have ever wondered how 3 triangles and some string became a swimsuit, now you know! Even more revolutionary, however, came the development of Lycra and similar fabrics in the 60s. While the 70s saw suits shrink even further, it would be the 80s that would introduce a true swimwear revolution.

Enter the 80s

Colours, colours EVERYWHERE. The 80s was the decade where the swimsuit became a riot of fun details, colours especially. What happened to birth these dramatic divas of the beach?

Well, have you seen pictures from the 80s? Leopard skin, neon, colour blocking…this was the decade we embraced colour. But it wasn’t just about fashion trends. 80s swimwear was bold because we now had the technology to do it. New stretch fabrics boomed in this era. So did the coupling of ‘style’ and ‘beachwear’. Interestingly, we also see rash guards and built-in sun tech first start to be developed. While you may recognize the opulent looks from 80s beaches as modern swimsuits in a way you don’t with earlier styles, it was a revolutionary decade for the humble costume.

Naughty 90s

The 90s brought us the ridiculous high-cuts made famous by Baywatch. It also brought us some of the first uses of modern underwire in swimsuits. While many modern beach-goers still like to use proper support under their suit, this finally gave women the freedom to choose. On that note, did you know the swim bra is a thing? If you’ve been slapping a sports bra under your suit and hoping for the best, why not get inspired by these swim bras from Calypsa instead?

But back to the 90s. This was the era of women’s entry into ‘surf culture’, so our suits showcased it. Think tie-dye bikini bottoms, daring cut-outs, clear plastic inserts (just why, though), and the surf-ready tankini.

Embrace the 00s

What came in the 00s and 10s, then? You’ll notice that all iconic beach suits we’ve mentioned so far were only really made to cater to one kind of woman- whoever had the ‘perfect’ body by popular culture at the time. 00s swimwear has evolved into something that allows everyone to have fun at the beach without pressure to look like some Old Hollywood star at all times. The 00s and 10s swimsuit should be empowering, making you feel like a beach goddess and expressing your personal style. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

What suit rocks your world? If you have a favourite swimsuit or style, why not drop it below?