Photos: 125 Years of Sarasota Swimsuits

Oh, how times have changed! As we enter the dog days of summer, let's take a look back at a century of Sarasota swimwear.

By Megan McDonald July 5, 2024

Running into the waves from the Lido Beach Casino

From the time of its discovery in the 1800s right up to today, our region has always been known as a slice of seaside paradise—and with that comes the desire to dip in the turquoise waters of the Gulf, especially during the dog days of summer.

But oh, how swimsuits have changed over the past century! From full Victorian formalwear to the rise of the bikini in the 1960s, we've rounded up (nearly) 125 years' worth of swimwear on local beaches to look back on.

An important note: Until the mid-20th century, Black residents weren't allowed on local beaches due to segregation. Members of the Newtown community participated in wade-ins and beach walks in protest, but segregated beaches weren't eradicated until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And, of course, we can't forget the local war on thongs in the '90s, too—more on that here.

The one thing that hasn't changed? The fact that we live in paradise. Happy scrolling.

Early 1900s: Indian Beach

Indian Beach, 1900s

1911: Anna Maria Island

Mamie Sims and Alice Robinson at Anna Maria Island

1917: Anna Maria Island

Sunbathers on Anna Maria Island

1922: Bradenton Beach 

Bradenton Beach bath house

1925: Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach bath house
Bradenton Beach bath house

1930s: An Early Florida Black Beach

In the 1930s, A. L. Lewis, president of Jacksonville-based Afro-American Life Insurance Company, helped establish one of Florida’s early Black beaches.

1948: Lido Casino

Heading to the beach from Lido Casino

1956: Lido Beach

Dixie Graves at Lido Beach

1950s and '60s: Lido Beach

Jetson Grimes (in plaid shirt) with the late Wade Harvin and friends

Image: Newtown Alive

1961: Sarasota

Gail Courtney in Sarasota

1966: Sarasota Marina (Marina Jack)

Sarasota marina (today known as Marina Jack)

1970: Bradenton Yacht Club

Bradenton Yacht Club
Bradenton Yacht Club

1973: Sugar Creek Compound

Sugar Creek Compound
Sugar Creek Compound

1976: Longboat Key

Holiday Inn, Longboat Key
Holiday Inn, Longboat Key

1980: Manatee Public Beach

Manatee Public Beach
Manatee Public Beach

1990: Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach

1996: Coquina Beach

Coquina Beach
Coquina Beach

2015: Lido Beach

Model Paola Buonfante at Lido Beach Resort

Image: Mark Farmwald

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