Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BATHING SUIT SEASON: A RETRO GUIDE


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.

RULE 1: WEAR HEELS

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.

RULE 2: 'MODESTWEAR' DOESN'T HAVE TO BE TOO MODEST

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."

RULE 3: SHOW OFF YOUR BELLY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD

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.)"

RULE 4: HIKE IT UP, LADIES

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!"

RULE 5: GO STRAPLESS

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

RULE 6: MAKE IT FLEET WEEK, ALL SUMMER LONG

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."

RULE 7: WRAP IT UP

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."

RULE 8: SALUTE YOUR SHORTS-- WITH A BELT

It really ties the whole outfit together.

RULE 9: GET YOUR 'V' ON

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."

RULE 10: YES FRILLS

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.

15 comments:

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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