How The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Went From Conservative To Tops Optional

Kate Upton

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which will be on newsstands next week, debuted in 1964 as a five page supplement meant to increase readership during the winter sports lull after the Super Bowl.

The very first cover featured a model in a conservative, non-revealing bikini. The photo was shot at a wide angle, almost focusing more on the beach background than the model.

Throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, the covers remained fairly tame; they generally featured a beautiful model wearing a bathing suit any young woman would wear to the beach.

In the ’90s and 2000s, a trend began. The models started wearing less and less, and the camera focused more and more on their bodies, and less on the surrounding scene.

You can see all of the Swimsuit Issue covers in the SI Vault >

Did you know the SI Swimsuit issue is bigger than the magazine itself?

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