History of Women's Bathing Suits

Shameless (1990s)

The red tanks from "Baywatch" were all '90s: high-cut legs and low-cut tops.
The red tanks from "Baywatch" were all '90s: high-cut legs and low-cut tops.
Fotos International/Getty Images

You won't find a lot of nude beaches in the United States, but really, these days, who needs 'em?

In the '80s, full butt coverage faded practically into oblivion, and side-boob made its first acceptable appearances in public. Thank you, "Baywatch"! The 1990s took it even further, bringing Brazilian beachwear (and the waxing that goes with it) to American shores in the form of the tanga, the thong and the three-inch triangle tops that might as well not be there at all.

But they are there, and that means everything: Somehow, there's a big difference between wearing nothing and wearing the tiny swatch of fabric called the bathing suit. How much a woman reveals can, maybe, say a lot about her. Or maybe it says nothing at all. No one knows. And that's the point.

For more information on swimwear, fashion, and other style topics, look over the links below.

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More Great Links


  • "Bathing Machines." BBC. (March 7, 2011)http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3371591
  • "Farrah Fawcett's red bathing suit donated to Smithsonian." Reuters. (March 7, 2011)http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/02/us-farrahfawcett-idUSTRE7117AA20110202
  • "History of Women's Swimwear." Berkeley OCF. (March 7, 2011)http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~roseying/ids110/WHIS.HTM
  • "Miss America Swimsuit Vote Takes Place Tonight" Lexington Herald-Leader. Sept. 16, 1995. Via NewsBank. (March 7, 2011)http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=LH&s_site=kentucky&p_multi=LH&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB73FFA598651B4&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
  • "Swimsuit Trivia." Swimsuit Style. (March 7, 2011)http://www.swimsuit-style.com/swimsuit.html
  • Thomas, Pauline Weston. "Women's Swimwear: Swimsuit Fashion History 1920 -- 2000" Fashion Era. (March 7, 2011)http://www.fashion-era.com/swimwear.htm
  • Turner, Julia. "A brief history of the bikini." Slate.com. Aug. 4, 2010. (March 7, 2011)http://www.slate.com/id/2262344/
  • Veteran CBS News Anchor Dan Rather to Resign. Online NewsHour Update. PBS. (March 7, 2011)http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/rather_11-23-04.html


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