Beach looks don’t come much better than the 23 featured in our list of iconic swimwear moments. From the world’s first two-piece back in 1946 right up to the burkini worn by Muslim supermodel Halima Aden in April 2019 (via some memorable pieces from Kim Kardashian, Pamela Anderson and Goldie Hawn along the way) we looked back through the archives - and then asked 2,000 of you to pick your favourite.
So what came out on top - and what does the survey highlight about our tastes in swimwear today? Let’s take a look at the results to find out.
And the winner is...
Back in the 90s its sizzling shade and scoop neck made us want to drop everything and head for the Californian coast. It was so famous it once appeared on an official Barbie doll. And now, Pamela Anderson’s red hot one-piece from 1993 has taken the crown as your most iconic swimwear moment of all time.
With an amazing 40% of the vote, Pammie’s red-hot look was a winner across all age groups. And in fact there are still 5,400 Google searches a month for the term ‘red swimsuit’, proving that Pamela Anderson’s style is still a much-sought-after fashion piece today.
Not bad going for an item that was originally designed to be functional, rather than stylish. It was created for the TV show Baywatch to closely replicate the sturdy suits real-life lifeguards were wearing in California at the time.
Bikinis vs swimsuits - which were most popular?
You don’t need us to tell you that swimsuits are enjoying their place in the sun right now - just a quick glance at your Instagram feed will tell you that! Google searches for swimsuits are also up a massive 50% in the past five years. But would our survey reflect our current love affair for the humble one-piece?
Of course it would! Not only was it a one-piece and not a bikini that took the coveted top spot, it featured five times in the top ten, reflecting its position as swimwear’s comeback kid.
Bo Derek’s nude one-piece swimsuit from the movie 10 came in at number six with 15% of the vote, followed by Elizabeth Taylor’s keyhole cut-out white swimsuit at number seven, Farrah Fawcett’s red Charlie’s Angels’ swimsuit at number eight and Sophia Loren’s simple black cossie at number ten.
Belted and bandeau styles as popular as ever
The second most iconic swimwear moment of all time was the belted bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the 1962 Bond film Dr. No with 28% of the vote. And there was not one but three bandeau styles in the top ten, with the style worn by Barbara Windsor, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe.
As Michael Thomson, Pour Moi founder, explains: “Many of the favourite choices from our survey showcase some really timeless designs – the bandeau bikini, for example, is a style that features again and again throughout the decades. In addition, it highlights some increasingly popular trends of today, such as belted swimwear. Although originally worn by Ursula Andress back in 1962, this style has seen over 90,000 more searches in 2019 than this time last year.”
Difference in taste between the age groups
Other celebrity looks, such as Kim Kardashian’s black bandeau two-piece from 2018 and Beyonce’s colourful, fully sleeved one-piece which she wore in 2016, proved far more popular with a younger age group (aged 16 – 34), while older age groups favoured swimwear styles worn by Bo Derek in 1979 and Elizabeth Taylor in 1959.
The top 10 iconic swimwear moments are:
1. Pamela Anderson’s high-legged red Baywatch swimsuit – 1990s
2. Ursula Andress’s belted white cotton bikini – 1962
3. Marilyn Monroe’s red and white striped bandeau bikini – 1948
4. Barbara Windsor’s yellow bandeau bikini – 1969
5. Halle Berry’s orange Bond Girl bikini – 2002
6. Bo Derek’s nude one-piece swimsuit – 1979
7. Elizabeth Taylor’s keyhole cut-out white swimsuit – 1959
8. Farrah Fawcett’s red Charlie’s Angels’ swimsuit – 1975
9. Princess Diana’s floral bandeau bikini – 1985
10. Sophia Loren’s simple black swimsuit - 1965
Survey conducted in April 2019 by Censuswide on behalf of Pour Moi to 2,000 female respondents.