The Evolution of Womens Beachwear in Australia

Women's swimwear has come a long way since the 1900s. From the loose-fitting conservative cut gown to patriotic flag printed bikini on Australia Day, the country saw the costume evolve over the years. There is not much difference between an Australian bikini and bikinis worldwide, but the way they transformed is interesting.

Before the world wars, women used to wear full-body woollen swimsuits. And the evolution came slowly with designers altering and bringing new fashion to the market—and the impact of global connectivity and trade after the wars transformed fashion faster. Trendy swimwear ideas came from every corner of the world to the island country. Here's the list of the types of swimwears women wore throughout history.

In the 1910s
This was the era of baggy frocks, and the costumes were also known as Victorian bathing suits. Though they were very conservative in style, the costume began to shrink in areas such as arms, calves, and necks. The female swimmers (Australian) in Olympics (1912) wore figure-hugging costumes while the British team wore full-body woollen swimwear.

In the 1920s
This was when tanning became popular, and the 20s saw a slight change in the way swimsuits looked. The swimsuits were made shorter for better tanning, i.e., shorts rose to mid-thighs, and some were backless. Fun fact: U.S. police officers used to measure women's swimwear on the beach as the modesty law required the shorts to be no more than 6 inches above the knee.

In the 1930s
Women in this era were not afraid to flaunt their figures. The swimwear was made of latex, donning nylon, and elasticated cotton, which hugged the figure. Shoulder straps (stretchy) were the new trend, as they can be lowered while tanning on the beach. During this time, resort holidays in the Mediterranean, Florida, Bahamas became popular, and women moved towards two-piece swimwear.

In the 1940s
Australia's part in world war 2 was vital, and in this era, men were too busy fighting the war, and there was no time to push morality and conservatism on women. The women took the opportunity to try new fashion trends, and this was the era when swimsuits bearing midriffs became the fashion. But, the bikini of that era was modest compared to today's fashion standard, with the bottom looking more like a mini-dress/skirt.

In the 1950s
The second world war was over by the 50s, and the textile market had more material because of the less demand as the uniforms and other cloth items were no longer necessary. This led to the new fashion of wearing caps during the time they spent in water. This trend became famous for its functionality—as their hair won't lose the effect of shampoo, blowdry and conditioner.

In the 1960s
This was an era of rebellion, and women left the tradition behind and moved forward to the modern trends. This was the time when Australian bikini meant tiny bikini, and the two-piece bikinis were tiny. Fun fact: The swimsuits were so explosive that it was named after the island Bikini Atoll—here, the U.S. tested their nuclear weapons during the second world war.

In the 1970s
In the 70s, women wore high-waisted bikini bottoms and classic triangle bikini tops. This style went well with the teased-up hairstyle and bandanas. Gender politics also played a significant role in this period, and because of the increase of women in the workforce and politics, they had bargaining power.

In the 1980s
This is the era when the g-string became popular. It was excellent for tanning and showcasing their pert derrieres. Nylon became the standard fabric, and neon colours covered the beach. High-cut bikinis and stylish one-pieces were also born this year.

In the 1990s
By this decade, the shock factor of women wearing bikinis faded away. The beaches were covered with bikinis, and the end of the millennium saw nothing as off-limits in the fashion world. Retro designs were also popular during this decade.

In the 2000s
The way the present fashion industry is moving forward, nothing is predictable. The bikinis and one-piece became normal like any costume.

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