It’s a hot summer day, the suns shining and not a cloud in the sky and what do most of us Australians do? Head down the beach. You don’t think much of it, going through your drawers trying to find your matching bikini bottoms. But just how far have we come from wearing bloomers down at the beach? Over the years Swimsuits have changed dramatically. They have become more practical, and more revealing.

During the 1800’s modesty was key. Women were not allowed to show too much skin, as this would give men the ‘wrong impression’ (Lulus. 2011). This meant dresses down to the knees, shoulders had to be covered and women had to wear stockings as to not reveal too much of their calves. Skirts were even weighted with lead to keep legs covered (Cheng. 2016).

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(Picone. 2015)

In 1920 Australian swim brand Speedo introduced the first non-wool bathing suit (Roberts. 2013). After World War 1 in the 1920’s Swimsuit fashion was introduced to the one piece. This isn’t the one-piece we know today, but more a sleeveless tank, which covered some part of the thigh, but women weren’t quite free just yet as the length of their swimsuits were still policed (Lulus. 2011). This continued into the 1940’s where one-pieces became smaller and showed more skin. These bathing suits became more desirable to women as Hollywood actresses would adorn them in movies (WYSK. 2013).


(Lulus. 2011)

During the 1940’s Louis Reard introduced the bikini (Roberts. 2013). Although the two-piece swimsuit did not become popular until the 1960’s, this allowed women to reveal more skin, with skinnier straps, skimpier tops and generally less material. The textile of the swimsuit was changing as well, with the company Lycra introducing a fabric that would eliminate saggy swimwear (Roberts. 2013). This trend started the era of the bikini we more so see today, with no more limits.


(Lulus. 2011)

The 1970’s to 1980’s were all about high cut bottoms and barely there tops that were recreated to be adjustable almost resembling bras (Komar. 2014). And then there was the high cut one-piece made famous by Pamela Anderson in Bay Watch. These high-cut swimsuits made women feel sexy, athletic and slender. And forever changed the way women saw themselves in swimwear.


(DNA. 2009)

Towards the 1990’s swimwear became more of a fashion piece than a practical piece. Woman would wear swimsuits that created less tan lines, and turned a few heads in the process (WYSK. 2013). Heading into the 2000’s the swimsuit became a large fashion trend with multiple straps, twists and turns in the fabric and extra accessories to add the touch of glamour into your ‘outfit’.

These days, the high cut one piece is making a return, and strapless bikini tops are widely seen. Bright colours and skimpy bikinis are the norm at the beach for us, and we have come a long way from wearing weighted dresses and bloomers for our summer swim.



Cheng, Andrea. 2016. “See How Swimsuits Have Evolved Through the Ages.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.

DNA. 2009. “Pamela Anderson says ‘Baywatch’ movie would be ‘pointless’ without her.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.

Komar, Marlen. 2014. “The Evolution Of The Bathing Suit From The 1800s Until Today Proves One Very Important Thing.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.

Lulus. 2011. “Fashion Era: The Evolution of Swimsuits Over the Years.” Accessed: 3 Oct 2016.

Picone, Kiri. 2015. “Appreciate Your Bikini: A Brief History Of Women’s Swimwear.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.

Roberts, Amy. 2013. “Bloomers to bikinis: Bathing suits through history.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.

WYSK. 2013. “Swimwear Through History, An Evolution.” Accessed 3 Oct 2016.