7 Ways Kids Swimwear Has Changed Through History

7 Ways Kids Swimwear Has Changed Through History

Taking a look back to see how far we’ve come!


There’s nothing like taking a look back into fashion to see how far we’ve come, and kids swimwear is no different - recently I found pictures of bathing suits from the last century (don’t panic, that’s only the 90s!). No matter what era I came across, one aspect of every photo stood out to me: the joy of children beside the water and the freedom on their faces as they played in the waves! This made me think about the pieces we design here at Coco + Me, and how lucky we are to work with such wonderful fabrics and technology! With that in mind, I dug through the archives and found these gems; from girls bathing suits to boys trunks, swimwear has come a long way in modern times.

  1. Swimwear in the 1800’s

In the 1800’s it was all about modesty! Even for the little tots. Frolicking down on the water’s edge you’d spot children dressed in, well, dresses. Buttoned up to the neck, girls and boys still had fun building sandcastles and jumping in waves, fully clothed with ruffled bloomers to match. You can read more about this modest time in swimsuit historyhere.



  1. Can you knit me a swimsuit please Mum?

In the 19thCentury, women literally wore a bathing gown to the beach. This improved slightly by mid-century, and toward the end of the era, sleeves started to vanish and the bottom of the garment lifted to the knees. Can you imagine swimming in a gown?! These suits were often knitted out of wool(sounds comfortable?) and talented mothers could knit together their little girl’s and boy’s swimsuits in no time. Pass the knitting needles!

  1. No more dresses – thank goodness!

Early 20thcentury proved a little bolder, with men, women and children starting to ditch uncomfortable swimwear for suits that felt a little better and worked a little more efficiently in the water. Let’s assume there was less risk of drowning as well! Thanks to some brave forbearers, women began wearing form-fitting suits and children followed in their footsteps. Materials like rayon, jersey and silk were used, which obviously still had problems when they actually got wet. (Luckily we put a little bit more thought into the fabric here at Coco and Me! ).

1940s Swimwear. Coco and Me Swimwear

  1. Time to tan!

By the 1950’s the bikini had made a solid appearance and without knowing too much about the dangers of sun exposure, women paved the way with two-piece swimsuits and tanning as much as possible. Children’s swimwear followed suit, girls bathing suits in particular began moving from one pieces to modest versions of their mother’s bikinis. Cute, fun and slightly more practical.

1950s Swimwear. Coco and Me Swimwear

  1. Finally, a little bit more elastane!

In the 70’s, Speedo added elastane (finally!) to their wool and cotton pieces. Improving elasticity, durability and reduced water drag, I give kudos to the smart thinkers at Speedo. For some reason we still really loved knitting children’s versions of swimwear every now and then, but thankfully this had left by the 80s.

Swimwear for adults became racier, while children started wearing whatever suited, with boardshorts for the boys and little versions of bikinis and tankinis for the girls.

  1. Fluro + Disney everywhere

Ah the 90’s. Surely we all remember this fluro packed decade. Think backwards caps, tie-dye, crazy patterns and fabrics very close to what we use today. Graphics consisted of a LOT of Disney, and we were becoming a lot more aware of the hazards of staying in the sun too long. Rash vests for boys and girls were used at beaches and pools, and parents wised up to sun smart practices a little bit.

1990s swimwear. Coco and Me Swim

  1. Kids Swimwear today

After working through the decades, all I can say is I’m glad we’re no longer wearing literal gowns into the water! We have amazing swimsuit technology; from streamline Olympic worthy swimwear, to UPF 50+ fabric for kids bathing suits.

Kids swimwear has come a long way in this last decade, and quality swimwear is now designed to last. Children continue to splash on the shoreline and build magical sandcastles, but now in a swimsuit with a little more thought put behind it. From classic lines, to pretty finishes and modern touches, boutique swimwear companies like Coco + Me design specifically with children in mind. With thorough attention to detail, children can splash and play wearing comfortable, practical swimsuits, with custom prints that wash and wear well.

Time may have past, fabrics and designs may have changed, but one thing remains the same; in the water, at the beach, or beside the pool - children are still playing, laughing and discovering the joy of the waves.

 Coco and Me. Children's swimwear. Sun protection

Coco and Me Swimwear, Unique, Stylish, Sunsafe