It’s May. Great. Summer is almost here, and with it comes trips to the beach, hanging with friends at the pool, and boating trips to Catalina Island—wearing a bathing suit. My favorite. For someone who doesn’t really like the idea of wrapping myself in skimpy spandex, summer can be a trial. All those memories, photographs spent wearing a bathing suit!
Likewise, shopping for that perfect suit isn’t a picnic. Finding something unique, yet functional can be a challenge. There might not be much left to reinvent when it comes to the bathing suit—the bikini is pretty much set, while the one piece is still fluctuating between having more coverage, and sexy cut outs—but designers keep on trying. Personally, I defer to a strictly vintage aesthetic when it comes to my bathing suits. Regardless of your choice, there’s fun to be had with prints and patterns and styles this summer, but Hands down, I’d rather channel bathing beauties like Grace Kelly in High Society.
To my chagrin, photographs of flappers at the beach look remarkably similar to today’s gal out on the town—at least the hemlines are about the same. I love the look of these suits—I feel like I could do anything! There’s no worries about bending over too far, or strange tan lines from awkwardly placed cutouts. Despite my affection for anything flapper, 1960’s styled bathing suits have just the right balance of sex appeal and coverage without standing out too much.
Grace Kelly in "High Society"
Vintage-inspired swimwear cues quirky, cute fun in the sun. I love vintage, and if I can’t be wearing a 60’s bathing suit, I’d like to find one that has the same feel to it. Whether you’re wearing a retro bikini or a classic one piece, expect playful prints like gingham, 40’s Hawaiian prints, or nautical colors. Retro styles tend to have a more modest approach to swimwear, with high-waisted bottoms and underwire bikini tops that often have low cut sweetheart necklines, yet feature good support with little chance of a wardrobe malfunction.
My first stop for swimwear is my local thrift store. I scored an early 60’s one piece in navy blue for $30! All the same, if you’re not sure where to go, and if you don’t mind spending a bit more, options abound!
Anthropologie, a haven for retro-minded gals who don’t mind dropping bucks on their personal iconography, is a good place to start. I found a black and white polka dot one piece, featuring a flattering sweetheart neckline with halter ties, side ruching, and boy-cut bottoms. Additionally, the Salinas Surf City Maillot keeps to a similar silhouette, but uses a wood-grain pattern, and a pop of color with a mustard bow at the bust.
Anthropologie Seafolly Natalie One-Piece
Anthropologie Salinas Surf City Maillot
Likewise, J. Crew offers a pretty, pinup inspired bikini that runs in five colors from African violet to masala chai. This suit also features polka dots, though they’re larger and give off a far more playful vibe than the Anthropologie selection. The bottoms are high-waisted, with ruching on the sides. This bathing suit combines the sex appeal the modern girl is looking for with the conservative charm of retro styles.
J.Crew Retro dot bikini
If you don’t mind busting out ye olde credit card, Betsey Johnson’s always a great place to look! Her girly, black and white checkerboard bikini brings your girly side out to play. Betsy Johnson’s flirty, 50’s infused clothes never fail to bring a spring to my step, and this bathing suit is no exception.
Betsey Johnson Swimwear Patty Cakes Skirted
Even if you’re a die-hard string bikini kind of girl, giving a retro-inspired suit a try isn’t a bad idea. You’d be surprised at how much more comfortable it is to know that everything’s going to stay put during a relentless romp through the sand.