Frilly Swimsuit

AKA: ruffle swimsuit

How to say it: frill-ee 

Traditional Features: 

Frilly Swimsuit

  • one or two-piece swimsuit decorated with one or more frills of various sizes

21st Century Frilly Swimsuit

Bikinis or one-pieces – in the 21st century the frill adorns them all. From large, statement making flounces, to rows of small, cheeky ruffles, the frilly swimsuit is constantly being reinvented for the modern swimwear market, making it a chic and sophisticated option for those who like a bit of feminine flair on their swimsuits.

House of Fraser Seafolly

House of Fraser, Seafolly

Topshop Zimmermann

Topshop, Zimmermann


…of the style: The first instance of a frill adorning a swimsuit has not made it into the history books, so I have had to resort, once again, to scouring images of vintage swimwear to try to determine when this trend started.

The earliest image I could find of a frilly swimsuit was this image of Elizabeth Taylor in a frilly bikini in 1947. Given that frills have long been a feature of women’s clothing, including lingerie, I find it had to believe that frilly swimsuits did not occur before 1947, but I have not been able to find any images to back up this assumption.

Regardless of when the frill first appeared on the swimsuit, the style certainly became popular in the second half of the 20th century and remains so in the early 21st. Found on the top and bottom half of suits, the humble frill is the perfect design feature to disguise larger hips, add volume to a smaller bust, or to simply add a touch of pretty, feminine style to any suit.

In the 21st century frills and ruffles abound in all shapes and sizes. From large flounces that envelope the bust or highlight a deeply dipping back, to small, baby ruffles that add a subtle feminine touch, frills are a perennial favourite of swimwear designers and regularly feature on the catwalk. Given the frills status as a design classic, it is unlikely that we will see the demise of the frilly swimsuit for many seasons to come.

…of the name: A frilly swimsuit is a suit that is decorated with some kind of frill, hence the name.

There isn’t really any real information about Frilly Swimsuits out there, just type ‘vintage frilly swimsuit’ it into your favourite image search to get an idea of its evolution through history.

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