How the beach went from a myth of horror to a regular catwalk

Once upon a time, the beach was a place that bore instant fear. While you may now be anxious to go freshen up with a salty dive while documenting it on your Instagram profile, a couple of centuries ago the beach would spike anxiety due to reasons that may or may not have been real. Think pirates and the Kraken, the sea’s brutality and biblical floods.

Palm Beach 1906. (c) Library of Congress; Source: Timeline


The term “restorative sea” was only coined in the 18th century as a prescription by physicians to make up for the elites’ lack of physical activity. Going to the beach was merely functional, as were the full garments – complete with stocks –named “bathing suits”. Quite literally also: almost no one could swim.


Source: Vintage Everyday


Places like Coney Island branded the beach as full-on leisure. Working-class mobs flocked to the beach, making bare skin became more acceptable and ultimately resulting in the appearance of the one-piece. Up until the 20s a sun tan would be frowned upon; only then did it become a status symbol that meant you had enough wealth to spend a month toasting on the Riviera.

 1900. (c) Universal History Archive—UIG via Getty Images
1922. Source: Huffington Post


From then on the history of the beach was all about more people and less coverage. In the 40s, the beach gained territory as the main option for family vacation while women started making fashion statements by dorning two-piece swimsuits and by being elected for beach pageants.

c. 1934 (c) Keystone-France—Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Source: The Great Lake Pinup
c. 1960; Source: CNN



The 80s brought sports culture and with it the need to show off the tonned bodies. The sand became flooded with bikinis and short shorts, a sea of taned legs and belly buttons. Soon, it was the 'Baywatch' era and beachwear had reach its peak of sex appeal.

A beachgoer soaks up the sun in Malibu, 1970.

c. 1970 (c) Co Rentmeester / Getty Images


c. 1970 (c) Baron Wolman / Getty Images


c. 1990; Source: PixShark



The following decades saw hotels, complexes and resorts pop up on the shores, while the catwalks showed an endless array of swimwear options. Summer vacations, it seemed, were now a synonym for going to the beach.

1991 (c) New York Public Library


c. late 1980s (c) H. John Maier Jr./The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images



c. 1990s (c) Daniel Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


As some beaches became mainstream installments and a little too crowded, the mindset seems to have start to shift in the last years.

Beachwear as a fashion statement might have stuck, but more and more the desire is to find new remote places where nature has been preserved and respected. Clear blue water and fine white sand with just a handful of towels display the original quiet and epicness that the beach once had. Plus, they make for much more beautiful Instagram shots.


Blogger Sofia Reis with her NYOS bikini on the Croation coast. (c) Mexiquer


Blogger Joana Campelo with her NYOS swimsuit. (c) Joana Campelo


Blogger Joana Coelho wear her NYOS swimsuit on a deserted beach. (c) Sofia Coelho


Blogger Hayley Andersen with her Salinas bikini. (c) Hayley Andersen


Blogger Luisa Meirelles with her Salinas bikini. (c) Luisa Meirelles


Blogger and DJ Camilla Brunetta with her Salinas bikini. (c) Camilla Brunetta


NYOS Swimwear and Salinas Rio are available in our stores.