It's been both the biggest and the smallest cover up in history. The swimsuit has either shielded the body or exposed it, depending on the fashion and morality of the time. Now there is an exhibition dedicated to the swimsuit at Sydney's maritime museum.
In Australia today everybody can soak up the winter sun in public.
But in the past, they were oh so modest.
Swimwear designer Peter Travis says the problem was that the pants for men were both too long and too short at the same time.
Designer Peter Travis said, "I'll make a swimsuit you can swim in, and that's how the brief appeared. It was made totally functional, you can't have something tied around your waist, which is what the old trunks had, they were very long, they had a half skirt, in fact the crutch came down sort of between the thighs and if you pulled it up it was too long."
Two models try out the fashions, both old and new.
The vintage costume even has weights in the hem to maintain modesty even in the water.
The exhibition illustrates how the Australian relationship with the country's extensive coastline has evolved.
Curator Penny Cuthbert said, "All kinds of things actually, I think its also the way it maps the body, it reveals the body and how that's changed over time. It's a garment that originated almost as underwear being seen as outerwear so it really changed perceptions of how people viewed the body."
No longer merely a practical outfit for swimming - modern beach wear has to be comfortable and sexy.