How The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Went From Conservative To Tops Optional• Business Insider
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 60's, 70's, and 80's, 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 90's and 2000's, 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.