Beautiful, But (Sometimes) Horrible—A History Of Women’s Swimwear

Retro high-waisted bikinis might be dotting shopping sites and Instagram the entire summer, but the real throwback style might just be a bandeau bikini and briefs. True story: Women in Roman bathhouses are depicted as wearing bandeau bikinis in historic mosaics, in a time prior to mixed-sex bathing.
But, of course, swimwear has definitely evolved — as evidenced by London's Fashion and Textile Museum's latest exhibit, Riviera Style. From the 1800's wool swim gowns (which frankly sound just awful) to the bloomers of the 1850s to modern day's cut-out one-pieces, we chart the evolution of swimwear throughout the ages, with help from paper-doll illustrations by the classic artist Tom Tierney. Who knows? Perhaps tunics and tiny board shorts will come back in style; but we'll be happy to leave those wool onesies in the past, thankyouverymuch.

More from Trends

R29 Original Series