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From bloomers and full-body coverage to the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini, few items of clothing have been as revolutionary, or as risqué, as the swimsuit, which has seen creative innovations through the years and has caused iconic moments in pop culture history. Take a dip into some highlights:

Bathing gowns from 1700s

You were as likely to sink as to float in this full-length bathing gown.

1870s: After going from Roman and Greek women wearing bandeau-style tops and briefs in ancient Rome that were much like the modern bikini, suits morphed into modest full-length bathing gowns in the 1700s and seaside walking dresses in the early 1800s. In the mid-1870s, this wool bathing suit was the fashion for American women and covered the arms and legs. 

Late 1800s swimsuit

Shorter bloomers made swimming easier and more attractive.

1876-1880: American bathing suits with shorter bloomers started showing more arm and leg. 

1880s men's swimsuits

These gentlemen were either heading to the beach or prison in their Victorian suits.

1885: Looking like they just busted out of jail, three men are ready to swim in all-in-one Victorian suits; stripes were particularly popular. 

Annette Kellerman

Champion swimmer and diver Annette Kellerman caused a commotion in and out of the water.

1907: Defying convention, swimmer Annette Kellerman caused a sensation in her revolutionary one-piece suit that helped her swim faster, but scandalously showed too much leg. She was arrested on a Boston beach for indecency. 

1920s swimsuit

The 1920s swimsuit captured on a postcard from the era.

1920s flapper swimsuit

Swimsuit fashion got a leg up in the 1920s.

1920s: Flapper fashion found suits more figure hugging and cut at the upper thigh, like shorts — scandalous! 

A Chicago policewoman makes sure a swimmer "measures up" to the city's moral code. 

A Chicago policewoman makes sure a swimmer "measures up" to the city's moral code. 

1921: The one-piece became more accepted and women ditched skirts and long sleeves in favor of suits. But in some areas, beach censors still imposed modesty regulations, like making sure shorts were the right length. Here a Chicago policewoman checks for length violations. 

Future president Ronald Reagan first learned to save the day as a lifeguard.

Future president Ronald Reagan first learned to save the day as a lifeguard.

1930s: While men’s ’20s swimsuits featured one-piece tank top and shorts, the ’30s embraced the change to swim briefs and bare torso. Even so, lifeguard Ronald Reagan cuts a fine figure in his more modest swim attire. 

Actress Ava Garner was spectacular in her 1945 swimsuit.

Actress Ava Garner was spectacular in her 1945 swimsuit.

1940s: Two-piece suits came into vogue, giving rise to the midriff, as actress Ava Gardner models in 1945. But navels were still covered, until ... 

In brief, the bikini was a French thing. Oh là là!

In brief, the bikini was a French thing. Oh là là!

1946: The first official bikini was introduced in Paris, showing belly button galore. The bikini was promptly banned in some countries, including Italy, for being indecent. Rumor has it inventor Louis Réard couldn’t find a model to wear it, so he hired a stripper, Micheline Bernardini. 

Having a ball on the beach.

Having a ball on the beach.

1950s: Fabrics for swimwear improved greatly in the ‘50s. Nylon and elastic were added for more stretch and to help suits dry faster. Smoother fabrics hugged a woman’s curves but didn’t show lumps and bumps, and patterns were bold. 

Jantzen swimwear advertisement.

Classic Jantzen swimwear ad from 1955.

1955: Red was a popular color for women and men could be more racy in swim briefs. This 1955 ad for Jantzen introduced “the red-hot news item for the summer”: swimsuits and swimming trunks in boucle, the “brilliant new fabric is the talk of the beach,” and in colors that were “all divine against a tan.” 

1960s bikini

Bikinis "bloomed" on the beach in the 1960s.

1960s: ‘50s structured silhouettes crept into the early '60s, with supportive strapless bras, high-waisted bottoms and novelty suits: covered in faux flowers, this bikini gives new meaning to the term “bloomers.” 

Ursula Andress

Ursula Andress in her breakthrough role as Honey Ryder in James Bond movie "Dr. No."

1962: When the statuesque Ursula Andress emerged from the Caribbean Sea in this white bikini in the James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” she not only created an iconic moment, she propelled the bikini to new heights. 

Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello rode a wave of popularity starring in beach movies in the 1960s.

1964: The surf culture exploded in the ‘60s. The always sunny Annette Funicello poses on the beach with a surfboard for her album, “Muscle Beach Party.” She starred in such beach-party films as “Beach Blanket Bingo.” 

1970s swimsuits

Swimsuits were bright and slimming in the 1970s.

1970s: Colorful and playful patterns were popular in the ‘70s. Men’s suits hadn’t changed much from the late ‘40s, but the fabric is not as bulky. 

Farrah Fawcett swimsuit poster

Farrah Fawcett’s famous swimsuit poster was shot in 1976 by photographer Bruce McBroom.

1976: Swimwear continued to get more revealing and daring, with thongs, string bikinis, and cut-out swimsuits. But it was Farrah Fawcett’s fairly modest red one-piece that created one of the most iconic swimsuit — and poster — moments in pop culture. The poster company originally wanted Farrah to wear a bikini. Instead, she pulled this one from her closet. The poster helped define the ’70s and adorned millions of dorm rooms and bedroom walls around the world. 

Tom Selleck speedo

Tom Selleck made waves in his '80s speedo.

1981: Tom Selleck’s swimsuit moment wasn’t as iconic as Farrah’s, but the “Magnum P.I.” star caused some excitement when he wore a speedo on “Battle of the Network Stars.” A few copies of this photo are still selling online for around $15.