Styles of swimsuits for ladies have changed over the centuries, just out of fun, before we look at todays ladies swimsuits fashions, lets have a look at the past ;-) Swimming is a human activity that is as old as humanity itself, or even older. Reasons to swim include(d): The need to cross a body of water, fishing / diving for food, recreation and fun, cooling down in hot water, play and general exercise, fitness purposes and rehabilitation. Whilst it is safe to say that the people in prehistoric times swam and bathed mostly naked, we also know that simple swimsuits have been developed quite early in human history. Fashion examples of these can be seen in mural paintings in old Pompeii, dating back more then 2000 years.

With the fall of the Greek and Roman empires and the beginning of the dark, i.e., the medieval ages, swimming got out of fashion for "reputable women". Actually, swimming and bathing in general was seen, during that time, as "frivolous" and even considered unhealthy.

Only in the 18th century became bathing and swimming popular again. And especially in coastal countries such as England, a bathing and swimming culture developed. Women wore in the beginning special dresses as swimming suits that reached to the floor, wouldn't become transparent when wet and had lead strings sewn into the hems to avoid them rising in the water.

Bearing in mind the restriction such bathing gowns were imposing on movements, it can be assumed that the women of the 18th century barely ever really swam, but more likely just walked around in maximal knee-high water. It is quite imaginable that women actually drowned because of there hindering swim suits and that women at this time rarely ever learned to swim properly.

The 19th century saw a change to all this. Ladies swim suits became two pieces suits, consisting of a top that reached from the shoulder to the knees and a pair of legging-style trousers reaching from the waist to the ankles. Far from being ideal for proper swimming, this was certainly more adequate then the swimming dress of the previous century. As the 19th century progressed, the swimming suit started to recede further, revealing slowly by slowly arms, legs and shoulders. New artificial fabrics made it possible to design swim wear that was tighter fitting to the body without becoming transparent when wet. Also aesthetic sports such as water ballet and synchrony swimming helped to make a more revealing swim suit for ladies widely acceptable. Hollywood with its glamour films and swimming beauties like Esther Williams help enormously with this.

After World War 2, the swim suit, that until then had been always a one-piece, divided in two, becoming the "Bikini". This consisted of two completely separate parts, the top and the bottom, leaving a smaller or larger piece of midriff free. This ladies swimsuit was called after the Bikini Atoll, where the first nuclear weapon tests had been taken place. Over time, two different fashions regarding female swim suits developed, namely one and two piece versions. But both styles continued to shrink more and more until they only covered the bare minimum of skin.

The extreme example of this for the one piece swimsuit, was the so-called Monokini that consists only of a bikini bottom hold up by thin shoulder straps, leaving the breasts completely exposed. Tanga style bikinis that covered only the nipples and "bikini zone" were the extreme example on the two piece swimsuit side.

But apart of these extremes there are a wide range of different ladies swimsuits models available that are a bit more modest. Here a short list of some new fashion trends for women's swimwear:

Swimsuits for competitions

These are nearly always one piece swimsuits that allow maximal range of movement combined with minimum friction between water and swimwear. The material and design of competition swimsuits are subject to regulations by the organizers of said competitions.

Training Swim or Drag Suits

A outer layer of loose fabric is attached to the one piece swimming suit to increase the friction between swimsuit and water. This is said to help the swimmer to achieve a better form by making it that bit more difficult to cut through the water.

Classic style

One piece swimsuits that are "high cut" at the hips, to make the legs appear higher, and with a supporting top that helps to achieve an attractive decollete are a classic favorite amongst women that want to look attractive at the pool and the beach, without revealing "everything" or that have minor figure problems that need a bit of fashion help.

Veilkini or Sharia Swimsuit

To allow muslim women to swim and to conform with the requirement of their faith to dress modestly, the Burqini (brand name of one veilkini producer) has been designed. It is a two piece swimsuit that covers the whole body, plus provides an integrated hood-style veil. It resembles a divers wet suit, but is more loosely fitting and often very colorful. Hand, feet and face are uncovered and the material is light and doesn't hinder movements. It also offers excellent sun protection and prevents effectively sun damage like burns and premature skin aging.


These are two piece swim suits that barely show any midriff. A tank-style, longish top and a bikini bottom are combined in what looks like a one piece swimming costume that is in reality a two-piece one. Tankinis are favorite with women that want to cover up that bit more without loosing the convenience of a bikini and also with pregnant women.


From super small to push-up bras included, there are as many bikini styles available as fashion designers in the swimsuit market. The current fashion trend is, at the moment, towards a slightly more covering style then the extreme Thong and mini-bra style only few women can really carry well.

Swim skirts

Short skirts attached to a bikini bottom are more of a case of beach fashion, then actually being practical for serious swimming. But they can come in handy to distract a bit from a less then perfect bum.

Conclusion: Whatever kind of ladies swimsuits you prefer to wear. Make sure you feel comfortable in it and that it fits your purpose. Fashion is one thing, but in the end the only thing that matters is that you feel good in your swimming costume or bikini, on the beach or in the pool ;-)