Memorial Day — aka the unofficial start of summer — is just days away and we’re more than ready for the warm-weather days ahead, namely the chance to soak up some serious vitamin D. And what better way to celebrate the season than with a look back at some of the most legendary ladies at their sun-worshipping best? Get inspired by our favorite vintage swimsuit moments and snap up something new for yourself from our “At Long Last, Summer” event, featuring French Connection Swimwear, designer sunglasses, wear-everywhere sandals, and more.
1. Esther Williams — 1944: Celebrated competitive swimmer-turned-actress Williams wore a shimmering gold lamé number during hospital tour shows for the soldiers in World War II.
2. Brigitte Bardot — 1953: An 18-year-old Bardot sent the paparazzi into a frenzy while sunning at the 6th Cannes Film Festival, and it’s said her floral-print bikini set the two-piece craze into motion.
3. Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer — 1959: Taylor was a beam of sunshine in this still from the Tennessee Williams’-based movie, wowing in a white-hot maillot that hugged every famous curve.
4. Farrah Fawcett — 1976: Photographer Bruce McBroom’s classic shot of the all-American beauty in a slinky red one-piece went on to rake in 20 million poster sales, and a spot on every boys’ bedroom wall from the late ’70s on.
5. Bo Derek in 10 — 1979: A cornrow-braided Derek running down the beach in a simple nude suit proved once and for all you don’t need a bikini to look like a total babe.
6. Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High — 1982: Cates’ stole the show in this teen comedy in a racy daydream sequence where she leaves little to the imagination in a revealing red string bikini.
7. Pamela Anderson in Baywatch — 1992: Anderson’s Baywatch alter ego C.J. Parker — and her cut-to-there red one-piece — solidified the fantasy of getting rescued by a gorgeous blonde at the beach.
8. Tyra Banks on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition — 1997: Banks landed her second consecutive cover in a barely-there pink and red bikini. Polka dots never looked so sexy.