This Summer’s swimsuit Part 2: The Monokini

The  Monokini has made its way back onto the beaches this summer.  Whether one finds it sexy or distasteful, it may be hard to believe that this design has made a huge splash in history.

What we know today as the one-piece swim suit adorned with several cutouts along the sides or the front, was actually much more revealing at the time of its creation.

Peggy Moffitt modeling the monokini for Women’s Wear Daily in 1962
Photo courtesy of

In 1962, the avant-garde fashion designer Rudi Gernreich created the original monokini with high-waisted bottoms and long thin straps attached around the neck.  

Society was shocked to see such a design in the 1960’s, that women could actually be arrested for wearing this piece in public. However, Gernreich described it as an expression for freedom of women.  

Being an open nudist, Gernreich designed the monokini at a time where U.S nudists were attempting to establish a public persona.  

Although the piece never took off in the U.S, the swim suit brought up the issue of allowing men and women equal exposure above the waist as a feminist issue.  

But somewhere along the lines, the monokini transformed itself into what we know it as today and Gernreich’s monokini was eventually considered just a topless swim suit.  

Miley Cyrus’s provocative swimsuit pose via Twitter.

It was last popular in the 1980’s and has come back for another round.  

Monokinis for this year have taken quite a creative route; some with graphic designs on the front or interesting cutouts.  

However, there are do’s and don’ts for choosing the perfect monokini and things to consider when buying it such as how it fits your body and size of the cut outs etc.

Not everyone is a fan of this look (as explained by Gossip Girl) because choosing the wrong one can make a big difference. 


An example of a graphically designed monokini by Norma Kamali.
Photo courtesy of


Most swim suit shops will carry this design, but Laurel Zapke recommends a few notable shops on West fourth in Vancouver.

The monokini offers something different for those looking for a unique beach look.  From the vintage-inspired looks out this year, which do you prefer?


3 thoughts on “This Summer’s swimsuit Part 2: The Monokini

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