{the} Thrifty Vintage Chic: Swimsuit Issue

15 Apr

Swimsuit season is rapidly approaching and to my delight, a life-long dream has been realized.

{the} Thrifty Vintage Chic: Swimsuit Issue

Classic swimsuits have made a come back.

As a teenager, I was constantly on the look out for vintage swimsuits in thrift stores, but I never came across any ‘suits in the style of which I had dreamt — the lines of the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and even ’50s.

Swimsuits of the 1920s

Swimsuits of the 1930s

Swimsuits of the 1940s

Swimsuits of the 1950s

Marilyn Monroe in the mid- to late-1950s modeling the evolution of the bikini.

But today, I look no further than Glamour‘s May 2011 cover to see the influence of the epic late 1940s and 1950s pin-up influence on this season hottest trend in beach wear.

Freida Pinto on one of the three collector covers of Glamours May 2011 issue.

Ashley Greene on one of the three collector covers of Glamours May 2011 issue.

{So} What’s the Take-Away?

The beautiful thing about this trend is that this style looks great on practically every body — full figured, curvy, lean — they all look fabulously trim, sexy and ultra-feminine in the high-waist brief or boy short, paired with a bikini top.

Notice, though, I did not mention, pear-shape in the above paragraph. This is because, for the pear-shaped figure a swimsuit that has more fabric on the bottom half of the torso than the top half is only going to accentuate the imbalance ratio.

Instead, pear-figured gals should opt for other retro lines such as this retro 1950s one-piece look from ModCloth, right.

But the what’s most beautiful about these retro styles is that the designers of these line created swimsuit that really showed off the features of a woman and embraced the naturalness of the curves.

In short, what this means to you is that you don’t have to dread the summer season and what you will look like in a swimsuit.

Just be you and let the genius of good design make you look more fabulous than Rita Hayworth and all her pin-up starlet diva co-stars.

But before you bask in the sun and flirt with dashing cuties, I must ask you to fully appreciate the history of this style with a nod of acknowledgment to swimwear’s most extraordinary designer, Rose Marie Reid.

“Nothing is so brutally frank as the bare essentials of a bathing suit.”   — Rose Marie Reid

With this understanding, Rose Marie Reid created a swimsuit empire that proved the utilitarian garment could be beautiful and compliment it’s wearer.

In the pursuit of this, according to VintageVixen.com, a few of the innovations Rose Marie developed in her suits included:

  • tummy control panels
  • paneling that reproportioned the body
  • a long-line bra with plastic boning that creates a divided natural bustline, for full busts
  • vertical stripes that slimmed in a dress-like design, for full hips
  • “magic length” suits for the long-waisted
  • stay-down legs via an innovative crotch panel
  • brief skirts for full figures


But what is it really like to wear one of Rose Marie Reid’s suits?

Well, I asked none other than the vintage-loving bathing beauty queen Diane Naegel, who also is the publisher of  Zelda, The Magasine of the Vintage Nouveau.

Diane Naegel, publisher of Zelda, wears a vintage Rose Marie Reid swimsuit. (Photo by Don Spiro)

“Rose Marie Reid was one of the first swimwear designers to think of swimwear as ‘fashion’ – why would a girl want to lose her style or figure just because she’s going into the pool?

“Early swimwear was chasing the function — creating new fabrics/materials suitable for swim and for the sport of swimming … Rose Marie Reid took that technology AND brought it back to glamour!

“Wearing one of her suits feels like wearing an evening gown for the pool. The bodice is boned (but not uncomfortable), and the internal structure really shapes and supports your body nicely.

“I find that I carry myself just a little bit straighter and sexier in a Rose Marie Reid suit!”

Where to Buy a Vintage-Inspired Suit?

ModCloth has one of the most extensive lines of vintage inspired retro swimwear that I’ve seen to date. However, you can find small retailers on Etsy offering handmade retro suits, as well as some main stream retailers.

This Bettie One-Piece ($78) is carried by Pinup Girl Clothing among more than a dozen other retro options!

For Glamour cover girl Greene, she’s wearing a Nanette Lepore bikini top ($81) and bottom ($75), while cover girl Pinto is also in another Nanette Lepore bikini top and bottom, for the same aforementioned price point.

Specializing in the sexy pin-up look, check out Pinup Girl Clothing for a bevy of saucy suits.

This Gina Lolobrigida swimsuit is currently for sale ($36) by Wild Souls on Etsy. Click photo to see more!

Will you be hitting the beach in a retro suit this summer?

The discussion’s live on the Thrifty Vintage Chic Facebook fan page!

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10 Responses to “{the} Thrifty Vintage Chic: Swimsuit Issue”

  1. Dawn April 15, 2011 at 11:38 PM #

    What a timely post! My mom had Rose Marie Reed suits from the 50s…I think they had boning in them and they zipped on the side. But golly! they gave one the figure of a movie star. I wish I had one now.

    For me, it’s simple: wear vintage-inspired bathing suits because they are ladylike and glamourous and functional. Less is definitely more, especially after all the MORE we’ve been experiencing over the past decade. Personally, I switched to a one piece after the age of 25 and, looking back at my photos, I made the correct decision. I look rich and glamourous, not mutton dressed as lamb, lol. And I had a killer body, too.

    Tankinis are great, too, if one prefers something more “modern” but equally lady-like and functional.

    • Thrifty Vintage Chic May 2, 2011 at 4:27 PM #

      Dawn, what is interesting is that Rose Marie Reid’s company expanded so much that she ended up having other designers on staff — but this also came at the time when her health started to decline … and also around this time came the advent of the bikini’s or two-piece’s popularity. So while her designers and her label produced this look, she was not very happy with it at all. Ironically, the label also began to decline in popularity and success. Interesting, no?

  2. Laurie April 19, 2011 at 3:20 PM #

    I recently saw one piece suits with skirts on them like the 1950s in Bon Ton around March. I thought, “Oh wow, making a comeback I see.” and it wasn’t a skort and tankini top, it was a one piece, and I was so happy to see that!

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Life’s a Beach: A Scrapbook of Vintage Fun in Swimsuits « Thrifty Vintage Chic - July 25, 2011

    [...] Don’t miss checking out tomorrow’s post featuring some modern bathing beauties, Heidi & Joe, donning vintage beach attire! In the meantime, check out the previous Thrifty Vintage Chic swimsuit issue! [...]

  2. Here’s Looking at You, Kid! « Thrifty Vintage Chic - September 27, 2011

    [...] in April, Diane lent some of her expertise on Rose Marie Reid swimsuits and modeled her own in {the} Thrifty Vintage Chic Swimsuit Edition. Perhaps, you remember meeting her [...]

  3. Should Have Kept & Glad We Tossed: Fashion from the Belle Epoque to Present Days | The Fashion Foot - February 13, 2014

    […] http://thefashionfoot.com/2013/04/18/stylist-pick-vintage-inspired-bathing-suits/ http://thriftyvintagechic.com/2011/04/15/the-thrifty-vintage-chic-swimsuit-issue/ https://feistyredhair.wordpress.com/tag/corsets/ […]

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