The bathing suit is reflective of the era in more ways than style—were women expected to be more covered up? Was the economy booming or busting? A simple one piece or flashy bikini can tell the tale. From Bond girls to Blue Crush and non-cinematic moments in between, see which swimsuits were having a moment the year you graduated high school.
one of 50
Jane Russell was one of America’s first major sex symbols. The actress proved that a covered up one-piece could pack a curvy punch in the more Puritanical mid-50s.
2 of 50
The bikini began to emerge in the late 50s, seen here in the South of France. It was originally invented by Louis Réard in 1946, but wasn’t widely embraced until much later.
3 of 50
Elizabeth Taylor stole the show in the movie Suddenly, Last Summer with this somewhat baggy white maillot. The relaxed look was a step away from the perfectly coiffed ’50s into the looser 1960s.
4 of 50
This gorgeous Slim Aarons photo illustrates the low-slung bikini bottom style of the early 1960s, paired with a strapless top. Consider it a bikini with structure.
5 of 50
A more tailored suit continued to reign as the 1960s went on. A smart woven hat made for the perfect accessory.
6 of 50
Raquel Welch has one of the most famous figures ever in cinema. This barbell style two-piece and Barbarella-esque hair showcases the over-the-top mood of the moment.
7 of 50
Sally Field as Gidget was the ultimate surf girl. The sweet pink hue of her suit and pigtails in her hair illustrate the good girl vibe of the mid ’60s.
8 of 50
Bathing suits were merging with fashion in the late ’60s, exemplified in this photo of model Pauline Stone wearing a petal-embroidered strapless bikini layered under a sheer wide-lapel tunic.
9 of 50
Jane Birkin wore a barely there bikini with a delicate gold necklace, signifying the end of the big-haired ’60s and a move into the more natural, bohemian 1970s.
10 of 50
This little gingham two-piece doesn’t have the structure of earlier bikinis. It’s meant to move with the body and showcased an ease that women were beginning to have in the early ’70s.
11th of 50
The original Foxy Brown Pam Grier wore major sunnies and a crocheted bikini top. The look in swim mirrored the look in fashion, which was all about natural fabrics and a less-is-more approach.
12 of 50
Jackie O was never one for anything too bohemian. This photo of her on a boat in a white headscarf and tied black bikini showcases a more streamlined mid-70s vibe.
13 of 50
Two words described the hottest trend of 1976: Plunging one-pieces. From Farrah Fawcett to Jacqueline Bisset (shown here), nothing was more popular than a deep neckline and body-hugging silhouette.
14 of 50
Princess Caroline of Monaco is seen here in a white maillot with tie details on the sides. This peek-a-boo style set the tone for the time with its striking elegance and ease.
15 of 50
Bo Derek made waves in the movie 10 for her flesh-colored swimsuit that left little to the imagination. The late ’70s were still about a naturalism in style—and a good tan.
16 of 50
The early 1980s were not yet about over-the-top glamor. Margaux Hemingway wore a simple black one-piece here with slicked-back hair that is timeless.
17 of 50
Phoebe Cates influenced a generation of young women in this standout red bikini. No one ever thought about exiting a pool the same way ever again.
18 of 50
The teeny bikini look continued on into the 1980s, when simple designs were still in style. “The smaller the better” remained the edict of the time.
19 of 50
In current vernacular, the look in swim in 1986 was “extra.” Cut super high on the leg, with an open back and low top was the norm. You might throw on a headband to finish the idea.
20 of 50
Goldie Hawnin overboard was the pivotal look in 1987—in other words look as rich and over-the-top as possible, especially in a swimsuit. Wall Street was on the rise and so was wearing as much gold at once as possible.
21 of 50
Nicolette Sheridan proved that a dramatic high rise bottom continued as the ’80s wore on. A floral print in primary hues was all the rage.
22 of 50
Helmut Lang was the of-the-moment designer in 1990s. This minimal suit on Helena Christensen with a boy short bottom and bandeau top from the runway signed a new era.
23 of 50
The early ’90s and Saved by the Bell were all about bold neons and graphic prints. California surf culture was all the rage.
24 of 50
With a continued trend towards Southern California cool, Baywatch-style set the tone in the mid-90s with its high-cut red one-pieces. Having curves and showing them off were in.
25 of 50
Belly chains, studding, and barely-there bikinis signed a new look in 1994. While minimalism was embraced by some at this time, others were all about the glam factor.
26 of 50
Grunge made its way to swim in muted tones and oversized bottoms. Bandeau tops were everywhere and so was Kate Moss naturalism.
27 of 50
This Salma Hayek swim moment in From Dusk Til Dawn showed that padding was moving into bikini tops and high slung bottoms still had a place in swimwear. Subtlety wasn’t for everyone in the ’90s.
28 of 50
A one-shouldered maillot with three colors was indicative of the swim look in the late 1990s. Cut-outs and a simple cool factor reigned.
29 of 50
1999 was all about Gisele, polka dots, belly rings and a golden tan. This ultra-low skirt was the ideal cover up at the time.
30 of 50
Elizabeth Hurley showed off her slim figure at the turn of the century as a sexy devil in bedazzled, which may just be named after her sparkly suit.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io