A Century of Swimsuits: 100 Styles Inspired by Every Decade

Shop your way through the history of swimwear!

swimsuits through the decades
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Swimwear has changed a lot over the past hundred years. From totally covered and conservative to barely-there bikinis, take a virtual stroll of swimsuits through the decades, along with the suits that defined them. Plus, we've included some modern versions you can shop now, because vintage is always in style.

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Style Icon: Clara Bow in the1920s
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Style Icon: Clara Bow in the 1920s

In the 1920s, modest swimsuit styles ruled the swim scene and featured stripes, logos, and other athletic details. The most popular silhouette was the swim dress, which was a traditional one-piece maillot under a flirty, flared skirt. This style later evolved into boy-short bottoms and scoop-neck tankini tops toward the end of the decade. With the rise of burlesque and vaudeville, women's fashion was transforming to be quite risqué and scandalous for the time.

More: Super Cute One-Piece Swimsuits

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L.L.Bean Swim Jogger, Scoopneck Top
$54.95
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Tommy Hilfiger Signature Stripe High-Neck Swim Dress

from $70.00

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Nike Stripe Tankini
$68.00
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Seafolly Boyleg One-Piece Swimsuit
$111.00
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OYE Swimwear Lea V Neck One-Piece With Zip Detail
$350.00
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Lands' End Women's Petite Scoop Neck Tankini Top

$46.00

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La Blanca Island Goddess Lingerie Tankini Top
$89.00
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Lisa Marie Fernandez Jasmine Polka-Dot Bonded Swimsuit
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Magicsuit Taylor Underwire Racerback Tankini Top
$114.00
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Tommy Bahama
Tommy Bahama Stripe Tankini

Top, $119.00

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Bottom, $53.00

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Getty Images
Style Icon: Bette Davis in the 1930s

By the 1930s, we saw a shift from plain and conservative to fashionable and form-fitting bathing suits. One-pieces and swim dresses were still all the rage, but new details emerged — like low backs, cutouts, and more eye-catching prints and patterns.

More: 9 Adorable Bathing Suit Cover-Ups

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Venus Siren Tankini Top
$19.99
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Athleta High-Neck Bra Cup Loop Tankini
$79.00
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Norma Kamali Polka-Dot Swim Dress
$213.50
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Unique Vintage Navy & White Stripe Off-Shoulder One-Piece Swimsuit
$52.00
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Unique Vintage Light Pink & Sketch Floral Sweetheart Cut-Out Rory Swimsuit
$53.00
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Miracle Suit One-Piece Swimsuit
$158.00
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Barney's Warehouse
Solid & Striped Diana One-Piece Swimsuit

$109.00

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Kate Spade New York Strapless Bow Bandeau One-Piece Swimsuit
$100.00
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Profile by Gottex Belle Curve Swimsuit

$146.00

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Miraclesuit Women's Marais One-Piece Swim Dress

$128.00

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Getty Images
Style Icon: Virginia Mayo in the 1940s

At last, the bikini is born, and flattering the figure is a top priority!

This decade saw the development of the two-piece, although it was a modest version with high-waisted bottoms and skirts. The midriff was a very exciting modification! One-piece swimsuits were also still popular, but slimmed down to shorter, fitted dresses because of textile budget reductions.

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Solid & Striped The Leslie High-Waist Bikini Bottoms
$88.00
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Unique Vintage Black Ruffled Off-the-Shoulder One-Piece Swimsuit
$52.00
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ModCloth Waterfront Flaunt Reversible High-Waisted Bikini Bottom
$39.00
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Ted Baker Monochrome Stripe Underwire Bikini Top
$69.00
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Mara Hoffman Plaid Mustard Swimsuit

$225.00

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ModCloth Parasail Away With Me Swimsuit

Top, $55.00

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Bottom, $45.00

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Mara Hoffman Sia Top
$91.00