The Most Popular Swimwear in History

Though we prepped our wardrobes for months ahead of summer's arrival, now that the season is officially here, we somehow still feel as though we could use another swimsuit (or two). Whether you're lucky enough to plan a trip somewhere by the water's edge or plan on spending most of the summer parked next to your apartment building's pool with a good book in hand, your tired swimsuit collection could certainly use a lift—and we're here to inspire. Unlike most fashion items, swimwear seems to actually stand the test of time, as we continuously draw inspiration from decades past. When you're searching for that perfect new waterproof look to add to your collection right about now, consider those that came before us as we dive into the history of swimwear (and yes, play favorites).

The 1940s

Back in the '40s, it was all about high-waisted bikini bottoms with a skimpier bralette.

H&M Floral Bikini Top ($30) and High-Waist Bottoms ($18)

Top available in sizes 36D to 38F; bottom in sizes 12 to 22.

The 1960s

Strings are the name of the game here. Consider bright colors and bold florals when channeling this retro style.

Isabel Marant Étoile Starla Bikini Top ($135) and Sonny Bikini Bottoms ($110)

Available in sizes FR34 to FR44.

The 1970s

We’re looking to the Jane Birkins of the world with French bikini styles that are classic but give off that subtle boudoir vibe—a hint of je ne sais quoi, if you will.

The 1980s

Sporty suits were all the rage (and they still are)—think tank bikinis and sporty maillots. Look for thick straps and bold colors for a fashion-meets-function trend that’s sure to turn heads.

The 2000s

The early aughts revealed more skin than ever before by way of low-rider bottoms and classic string tops. Whether you go for a surfer vibe with more coverage or a skimpier selection, it’s all about showing off your midsection.

What decade suits you best?