I go on holy grail hunts for companies that do sized tops (but never ever have 30 H) with bottoms I can buy separately. That's if I dare risk a bikini, which I mostly don't. Plus, I know I'm out $80 for a bikini that fits well, but it still won't fit perfectly. I have one tankini with a zipper front but it's so very sporty-looking zipped (and so very not sporty-looking unzipped) that it rarely gets an airing.
But I came to a realization (odd it took so long for a girl who wears so much retro off the beach) that perhaps I should try vintage bathing costumes. Why not? The past produced dresses better for curvy girls, why not swimsuits? One good part being that, without chlorine and with different fabrics, vintage swimsuits seem to last longer than modern ones. Also, they have such interesting patterns and necklines.
I started the hunt some three years ago and have ammassed a collection of three suits since then, perhaps not of the colors and patterns I might wish, but I'm willing to take a color risk in order to wear a good, supportive, nicely-shaped suit.
I will admit, I was afraid they might look a little, well, granny-like. However, vintage suits seem to be all over the fashion blogs and runways for summer this year. So what do you know? I'm on trend for a change.
Vintage suits seem to dictate a specific look ~ full make-up, heels on the beach, matched robes or little jackets.
(left ~ yellow form the 1960s, right ~ Carolyn Schnurer bathing suit ca. 1952 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
However, I think you can go beach chic with a vintage suit and not have to go all the way retro. Here are my three paired as possible outfits.
(Maxine of Hollywood suit thrifted $20 a long time ago, gold ballroom Very Fine dance shoes from It's a Wrap in LA $10, sailor shorts from Crossroads in San Francisco $12)
(Labelless suit from Bon Mar Thrift store in Sonoma $5, Union Bay cargo shorts thrifted a while ago $15, Miz Mooz sandals recent score from Crossroads in SF $25, silver cuff probubly around $10 can't remember source)
(Roxanne turquoise tie-side skirt suit from Bon Mar Thrift store in Sonoma $5, H&M shorts $25, thrifted Apepazza flats probably from Buffalo Exchange around $20)
So there you have it, why not give a vintage suit (or a vintage inspired retro suit) a try? (Here are a bunch of retro suits from Mod Cloth. They are expensive. Please do check your vintage and thrift stores because suits do turn up. Often they are in the lingerie section.) You'll stand out in the right way. And I believe such suits provide the kind of support and coverage that gives a curvy girl those most necessary of feelings when wearing a swimsuit ~ confidence and courage!
(Claire McCardell bathing suit ca. 1957 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Next up, I hope to find the perfect (and perfectly silly) vintage bathing cap to go with my suits. I'm thinking cream with rubber flowers. Wish me luck!