Whether it is the invention of the bikini or a celebrity flaunting a risqué bathing suit, swimwear has remained a controversial subject throughout fashion history. Before swimwear was embraced as a summer staple, it was the women of the silver screen who propelled the look into the mainstream. From the iconic “Bond girl” belted bikini to the iconic Baywatch one-piece, Hollywood made swimwear a staple of the screen.
Immortalized by leading ladies of the cinema and television worlds, we’re taking a look back at the most memorable swimwear looks in history with shopping suggestions for how to cop them.
Brigitte Bardot, Manina, the Girl In the Bikini
Brigitte Bardot’s skimpy bikinis in Manina, the Girl In The Bikini were naturally scandalous at the time of the film’s release when two-piece swimwear was still considered immodest. This bold performance earned the actress the title of ‘The Bikini Girl’ and played a tremendous role in the mainstream acceptance of the controversial swimsuit.
Marilyn Monroe, How to Marry a Millionaire
Much like everything Marilyn Monroe wore, her red sweetheart neckline bathing suit from How to Marry a Millionaire is one of the most popular looks in swimwear history.
Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly Last Summer
Elizabeth Taylor’s seemingly innocent white swimsuit from Suddenly Last Summer caused quite a stir back in the day, nearly getting the movie banned. The legendary one-piece has since gone down in history as one of the most memorable on-screen swimsuits.
Ursula Andress created cinematic history in more than one way with her iconic character Honey Ryder in the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. Andress looked sensational as she emerged from the sea, drenched, wearing an ivory bikini with a wide belt put in place to hold a dagger.
Bo Derek, 10
Bo Derek shot to fame after her appearance in the movie 10. The iconic beach scene, where she is running in an incredible gold swimsuit with her hair in cornrows, was the trend-starter for similar shots in other films.
Phoebe Cates, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
There is something undeniably irresistible about red swimsuits, and Phoebe Cates’ iconic red bikini from the teen dramedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High is proof.
Pamela Anderson, Baywatch
Pamela Anderson’s slow-motion run down the beach in a signature high-cut red swimsuit in Baywatch is not only iconic but also a pop-culture symbol for the ages. Such was the influence of the show, that even decades later, it is almost impossible not to associate a red one-piece bathing suit with the series.
Denise Richards, Wild Things
Denise Richards‘ powder-blue swimsuit in the 90s cult classic, Wild Things, was a trendsetter and enjoys an iconic status to date.
Gwyneth Paltrow, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Gwyneth Paltrow’s printed bathing suit with frilly high-wasted bottoms and a matching top from The Talented Mr. Ripley is simple yet chic. With floral bikinis and high waisted bottoms back on the trend charts, you can easily channel Paltrow’s iconic look below.
Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde is the story of a blonde sorority girl who defies all stereotypes. While the movie is almost 20 years old, Elle Woods’ sparkling pink bikini remains unmatched.
Rachel McAdams, The Notebook
The Notebook leaves us in a teary mess every time we watch it. The iconic beach scene where Noah tells Allie, “If you’re a bird, I am a bird” is unforgettable, and so is Rachel McAdams’ vintage bikini look.
Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow
In Red Sparrow, Jennifer Lawrence – who plays a spy trained to trap men with her good looks – played the part perfectly with the help of a cut-out swimsuit.