A Brief Swimwear History Courtesy Of ModCloth

by Augusta Statz

There’s a lot to consider when buying a bathing suit, so the historical origin of the silhouettes you’re choosing from is probably the farthest thing from your mind. ModCloth released a history of swimwear that highlights eras from the beginning of the century to present day, and, honestly, it’s pretty cool to see how we’re still being influenced by past trends.

The history is brief and presented by an adorable, and totally digestible infographic, but it's full of fun little tidbits of information that I had no idea about before. For instance, did you realize that bikinis came into style around the same time as WWII? Me neither. Pretty interesting stuff!

And everyone is aware of high-waisted bottoms because they’re so trendy right now, but did you know that they were first popular in the 1940s. You didn’t know you’d be getting a fashion trivia lesson today did you? And yet, here you are.

After you read through the infographic and feel super inspired by the history of bathing suit trends, you’ll also be able to shop similar looks because ModCloth is a great place to find vintage silhouettes.

So, take some time to educate yourself on these styles, then have a little fun planning your summer swimsuit wardrobe afterwards! Which era will inspire you?


The earliest swimsuits were made of wool. Pretty crazy, right?


The swimsuit competition portion of the Miss America Pageant started in 1921. Who knew?


Bikinis first came into being during this era due to shortage of materials. Who would have thought this would become one of the most popular bathing suit styles of today?


This was the age of curves. Thank you, Marilyn Monroe!


Mod prints were everywhere during this time, including on bathing suits.


Forget high-waisted bottoms! Bottoms were lower cut than ever before during the '70s.


This is the age of the V-cut. Show off those hips!

Present Day

High-waisted bottoms from the '40s and cropped tops from the '90s are back and better than ever.

Shop these styles and more at ModCloth.

Images: ModCloth