Tuesday, May 25, 2010


If you're shopping for suits this season, you probably hate your life. That's because they don't make beachwear like they used to. Thankfully, a few simple rules from our mothers can make the ordeal feel a little less like walking through a funhouse... in a fever dream... in high school...naked.


A swimsuit and poolside cocktail are no excuse to wear flats. Especially if you're wearing a one-piece--that's practically corporate casual these days, so show off your gams, goddangit. For inspiration see Margaret Capstick Grillion, above, in 1958.


Attention shy beach-combers and the Duggar children, covering up can still be done with flair. Take a cue from Maria Cullen's mom in Italy in her 1930's nautical dress.
"My mum had me when she was 42 so there was quite a lot of life 'lived' before I arrived on the scene - this dress formed part of the legend of what went on 'before'. It lived in the back of her wardrobe when I was growing up and was one of the clues to her glamorous and chaotic past."


If you're going to wear a baby on your body, make sure it's covered...in bright cherry red. Says Liz who was inside the brightly-colored tent:
"This is a picture of my mom from the summer of 1986; she's visiting her sister near Cape Cod. She told me she even called in sick from work to go to the beach that day! (Don't tell her former employers.)"


Nancy Armstrong writes: "This is a photo of my mom Louise Davis at the beach in 1939 just before she eloped with my Dad. Note the high waisted bathing suit and the no - padding top!"


Vi Auber had the right idea in 1956: a one piece really doesn't need any strings attached.


Judy sent in this photo of her mom in 1944: "Sylvia Loveall Courtney is modeling one of the many outfits she made while living in Long Beach, CA, where she worked as a riveter at Mcdonnell Douglas. This outfit was made in navy blue and white with matching shoes for a nautical theme."


I know a lot's happened between now and the 60's. Vietnam, Watergate, Women's Lib, the Lost series finale. But how did we forget about THE BEACH TURBAN- the quick fix for frizzy hair flyaways? Ericka Cady's mom serves as a reminder for this summer. "This is my mother in Sarasota Florida at Christmas time in 1968. A 25 year old mother of 4, all under the age of 7. Probably some form of alcoholic beverage in the styrofoam cup."


It really ties the whole outfit together.


One pieces are way more glam when they've got a plunging neckline, yes?
Belinda writes: "My mother in 1972 at a beach name Eton in Vanuatu. This woman had given birth to 8lb twin girls then two years later a 9 and a half pound girl. Pretty amazing body I thought for someone who has had to grow something so big in it."


Seriously. Have a gander at the glamorous Linda Funk Vickers in the 1960's. Her layered bikini top is rack-er-ific. Moreover it's perfect limbo attire. You never know when someone's going to pull out the stick and the beach-side ska band, so you better be dressed to get low.


Felix Curds said...

This is wonderful- especially the ruffles and the shorts! I am heading on a beach vacation today and am still in need of bathers:/ It really is quite a shame they don't make swimwear as cute anymore:)

Nectarine said...

I used to work in a lingerie store that sold a lot of swimwear. Women always seemed to flock to the more vintaged styled suits and beach wear - they worked for so many more body types than the modern "bikini bod".

Nicole said...

The woman with all the kids under 7 and the turban? Needs a drink. I need one just reading about it! Great post, very fun! Frack, bathing suit shopping is the devil.

...love Maegan said...

adorable ...I love #9

Kelly said...

It's a treat to see my mother (#10) in this post. Thank you!

Vintage Lover said...

I love the bathing suits. I have a couple wool men's bathing suits from the early 20th century and I even find those fascinating! Good pics!!

High Waist Bikini said...

Really great pictures and I'm glad I found this. All show a sense of style and comfort. Both Rule #3 and 4 demonstrate that it's fine to be proud of how you look, for example if you're pregnant or were considering padding. Very different from today's diet-driven and more-skin-is-better media.

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