Men’s swimwear has certainly changed over the years and what men wore in the beach in the 1900s was a far cry from the stylish Saul men’s shorts from Independent Leaders that the Made In Chelsea star Ryan Libbey was seen wearing recently. In fact, Ryan Libbey’s recent choice of beachwear was quite modest when compared to the skimpy briefs of the 1970s. Here’s a rundown of just how much men’s swimwear has changed over the years.


In 1915, men’s attire for a day at the beach looked more like underwear than it did a bathing costume. Modesty and decency were still high on the agenda back then, so men were covered from their thighs to their neck, and along their arms, by one-piece bathing suits that left absolutely everything to the imagination.


By 1925, thing’s had begun to lighten up a bit, but only a little bit. Men exposing their arms on the beach became acceptable, so the tank-top look became the big thing in men’s swimwear. Down on the bottom half, things got a little freer too, as men’s swim shorts became looser and a bit higher up the leg.

1930s and 1940s

In the 1930s, things definitely began to loosen up, as it finally became legal for men to take their shirts off on the beach! In the 1930s and 1940s, men’s beachwear shorts were actually shorter on the leg than they commonly are today. The colour of men’s swimwear in this period, though, still remained fairly subdued.

1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s and 1960s new, materials, such as spandex and rayon, came into fashion, so men’s swimwear got tighter, as well as a little bit shorter. Things also got a lot more colourful, with brightly coloured and patterned swimming shorts.

1970s and 1980s

The 1970s was the definitely the decade of briefs on the beach for men and they were as colourful and funky as they were small. That trend didn’t last for as long as you might have thought, though, because in the 80s, comfortable boxer short style beachwear was back.


Men’s Swimwear gravitated downwards again in the 1990s, when Hawaiian style shorts were the thing to be seen wearing on the beach, along with the ever-present pookah shell necklace to go with them, of course.

Early 2000s

As the recession bit in the early 2000s, so fashion became a bit more understated. The garish colours of Hawaiian beach shorts went out and mono-colour men’s swimwear became the norm.


Today, men’s swimmer has a distinctly Brazilian feel to it. It’s colourful, it’s comfortable and it’s actually quite modest too. It’s definitely got the feel of carefree, fun-filled, holidays in the sun and a free-spirited lifestyle.

So, from covering up in the 1900s, through tight, uncomfortable, and way too revealing, speedos in the 1970s, to the relaxed and free-spirited feel of the late 2000s, men’s swimwear certainly has come through quite an evolution. It makes you wonder what kind of beachwear reality show celebrities like Ryan Libbey will be wearing next.