Every Retro Swimsuit Trend You'll Want to Try This Summer

Retro swimsuit trends

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When it comes to ready-to-wear runway trends, we tend to favor a single decade at a time. You might be a ’90s slip dress and high-waisted jeans lover, more partial to the bold colors and oversize silhouettes of the ’80s, or obsessed with channeling the fashion icons of the ’70s with flare jeans and ringer tees. When it comes to swimwear, though, we don’t play favorites—it’s simply impossible. How could we ever choose between the sporty one-piece that makes us feel like we belong in Baywatch, the high-waisted silhouettes from our grandparents’ generation, and the go-anywhere string bikini from the ’90s? The good news is that you don’t have to settle on just one retro swim trend.

We’re breaking it down decade by decade to show you the best trends of those who came before us and why you’ll soon be obsessed with the looks of previous generations of beach lovers. These days, designers have taken these retro swimsuits and made them their own, infusing some modernity into the most beloved of classics. No one does an ’80s one-piece quite like Solid & Striped, Marysia has found a way of making the romantic shapes of the 1960s new again, and when it comes to 1970s French bikini silhouettes, few do it better than J.Crew. Shop all those and more—at every price point—just in time for summer.

1940s

Think: high waisted-bottoms, bandeau tops, and silhouettes that accentuate your body while showing skin in all the right places.

1960s

As the silhouettes got skimpier, the prints got bolder. In bright florals, ginghams, and muted bright tones of pink, green, orange, and more, it was certainly the era of the flower child.

1970s

The string bikinis got an upgrade with varying silhouettes inspired by French-girl style. Straps traveled from the nape of the neck to bralette shapes in elegant French bikini shapes.

1980s

With the ’80s came Baywatch, giving way to a deluge of sporty styles. We’re mostly in love with the tank-style one-piece that beach-goers are still obsessed with.

1990s

Mix together the skimpy silhouettes of the ’60s and the bold colors of the ’80s and you’ve got yourself a new take on sporty sportswear by way of string bikinis and cutout one-pieces alike.

2000s

The early aughts were all about the hips with a youthful sporty vibe that came by way of hipsters and low-rider bottoms. On top, it was all about the halter, with simple go-to shapes that are easy to mix-and-match.

What’s your favorite decade when it comes to swim? We, for one, have a hard time not taking them all for a test-drive.