The One-Piece Revival

The history of the swimsuit is a long and controversial battle of the skin vs. no skin debacle. The gradual change from the 18th century bathing suit to the modern day bikini – and everything in between – leaves us with the troubling decision of how much skin we want to show.

Story by Sarah Montgomery
Photos’ Text/Edits by Sarah Montgomery

I recall a fervent search I went on for a one-piece several years ago. I searched online and in stores, unable to find anything beyond the mom-style, black and shapeless type of suits. I have always been a fan of 20s and 30s-style swimwear. One-piece suits offer a carefree versatility when it comes to tubing at the lake, kayaking and spending afternoons at amusement parks. You don’t have to worry about straps coming loose or undone when wearing a one-piece. Unfortunately, it was stressful trying to find a suit that combined functionality and fashion.

However, more retailers seem to be offering a wide variety of choices.

I’m excited to get my hands on a few pieces for the summer and witness the revival of the one-piece. Here is a small handful of the growing number of options.



Photos courtesy of

Photos courtesy of

Modcloth offers a wide variety of vintage-inspired pieces. The sophisticated and classy style mimics the suits of the 20s and 30s with their halter tops and quirky patterns. The scalloped detail on the yellow halter suit makes me swoon. This can be worn while lounging by the pool and sipping lemonade on a sunny day. All you need is a glossy copy of Vogue and a cute pair of oversized sunnies to complete this classy look.


Photos courtesy of

Photos courtesy of

If you’re looking for the comfort of a one-piece, but you’re not interested in a particularly vintage style, Urban Outfitters offers a variety of whimsical pieces that come with a hint of attitude. The cutouts in the hot pink suit above break the stereotypical idea that one-pieces are created to be modest. Urban Outfitters also sells simple one-piece suits with crazy graphics, such as the shark on the white suit above, allowing you to bring fierce style to the water.



Photos courtesy of

Photos courtesy of

The No. 1 problem that still exists when finding the perfect one-piece is the price. In my personal experience, the cost is definitely worth it. Typically, a $60 to $150 swimsuit is considered pricey, in comparison to the affordable nature of many two-piece suits. Luckily, stores like Target are catching up with the trend and slowly rolling out more one-piece styles. This American flag swimsuit is both cute and affordable. You can wear it to the many Fourth of July parties coming up in the summer, too. The tribal swimsuit is something that I would purchase because the price makes it perfect for lake adventures and road trips. I could wear it without worrying about getting it dirty or damaged.


As demand for one-piece suits grow, and the revival accelerates, prices will inevitably drop. Consider adding a one-piece to your collection this summer so you’ll be ready to toss it in your beach bag and jet off to your next water-related adventure.


Style Tip: Like with everything you purchase online, buying swimsuits comes with its risks. Make sure to pay attention to size charts and reviews. The biggest problem associated with one-piece suits is torso size. A piece might fit around the hips and chest, but be too short or long for your midsection.

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