Revisit the history of the bathing suit with these vintage photos

People have always been drawn to the beach no matter what era. Whether you're there for a dip in the water, to soak up some rays, or just enjoy a day with friends and family, there's plenty to do. While beach lovers have always been constant, one thing that has changed drastically is the bathing suit.

Today's bathing suits range from modest to risqué, but that wasn't always the case. As early as 4th century B.C. mosaics can be found of female athletes adorned in outfits that come quite close to the modern bikini. Strangely, if we fast forward to only two centuries ago, you would see something much different at your local beach. In the early 1800s, modesty was key and women wore 'bathing gowns' which were closer to gowns than anything easy to swim in. Women weren't the only ones keeping themselves covered up; men could be seen wearing shorts that hit at their mid-calf and shirts that only exposed their arms.

As time progressed hems rose and bathing suits became slightly more form-fitting but still covered the majority of the female body. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the most scandalous development occurred in 1907 when the first woman to swim across the English channel, Annette Kellerman, donned a skin tight swimsuit -- which still covered her from collar bone to ankle -- and was arrested in Boston for her shocking swimwear.

Dive into these vintage beach photos:

Vintage beach life
See Gallery
Vintage beach life
Detail of the Ten Girls Mosaic depicting women athletes, Girl holding a chariots wheel and to her left the winner of the competition is standing with a palm leaf in her hand placing a rose crown on her head. From the Villa of Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Italy. Period/Date: Early 4th century, BC. Roman. (Photo by Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *06.07.1887-05 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Man playing ukulele for his date at a beach party, ca. 1910 (Photo by Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images)
Young girls jump for a ball as they play together on the beach. Clearwater Beach, Florida, ca. 1924. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
A group enjoying the sun at a beach party in California. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
A group of fun-loving teenagers enjoy a game of skipping on the beach. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
A group of people lying on a sandy beach and listening to records on a wind-up gramophone, circa 1930. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
A young couple lay, limbs entwinned, together in the beach at Coney Island, New York, New York, late 1930s or early 1940s. (Photo by Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) sports, gymnastics, a woman at gymnastics exercises on the beach - Photographer: Gerhard Riebicke- Published by: 'Die Gruene Post' 31/1940Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by Gerhard Riebicke/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
A man struggled out of his trousers on a crowded beach at Coney Island, New York, New York, early 1940s. (Photo by Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Child images Boys carrying each other piggyback on the beach - 1940 - Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Student Life, Beach Party, Senior Week Candid shot of Hopkins students sitting on each others shoulders and forming a human totem pole at Triton beach, 1947. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).
UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 23: Beach cricket at Skegness in Lincolnshire, Beach cricket at Skegness in Lincolnshire, August 1940. 'You don't have daughters mooning after seashells when a catch in the slips is coming'. Greta Meredith, typist, Gladys Carrier, mill- worker and schoolgirl, Valerie Buckley, field to Edna Buckley, confectioner. (Photo by Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 07/27/1945-Berlin, Germany: GI's GERMAN GIRLS. GI's - Frauleins enjoy beach party in Berlin. These three American soldiers went for an outing on the famous Wansee Lake in Berlin where they joined this group of German girls. One of the frauleins of the mixed beach party.
circa 1960: A group of young people enjoying themselves at a beach party on the white sands of the Miracle Strip, a stretch from Pensacola to Panama City, Florida. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Water Ski Lesson On The Beach. 1957. (Photo by: Marka/UIG via Getty Images)
EXM-P-S-LOS-ANG-CIT-ORP-010 (Photo by USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images)
FRANCE - CIRCA 1950: Scene of beach. Young girl covering itself with sun cream. (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
A publicity photograph, by the Scotty Bjurstrom Agency, advertises vacations with girls playing on a sunny beach, Florida, circa 1950. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

After Kellerman's daring attire, a shift in beachwear occurred. In the 1920s hemlines took a huge jump to just above the knees as well as bodices becoming more tailored. Men's swimwear was also going through a metamorphosis; swim suits started to feature more tank tops and even shorter shorts.

Fast-forward ten years and the 1930s were embracing a lot more skin. Men ditched their shirts and 'romper suits' were all the rage for women. Romper suits combined skin tight with exposed arms, collarbones, and showing off thighs almost up to the hip!

Jumping to the 1950s, midriffs were beginning to come out of hiding. High-waisted bikinis were a huge trend, and designers were committed to continuing to push boundaries on what was acceptable beachwear. Men's 'trunks' began to shrink and now, more than ever, resembled underwear.

Ten years later the bikini was here to stay, getting skimpier and skin was officially in. Men's fashion also developed quite the variety. Walking along a beach today you will see everything from a speedo to board shorts. From the 60s onward women's bathing suits have morphed from trend to trend, but the classic silhouettes of the one piece and the bikini have stood the test of time.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.