The thought of swimsuit season used to fill me with fear. I just didn’t feel comfortable or good about my womanly figure in something as skimpy as a bikini. I would dread holidays and find myself frantically doing sit-ups every morning in the lead up but to no avail. I would still feel self-conscious when I was there. My fear of being seen in a two-piece stopped me relaxing and just enjoying myself. Then I discovered the incredible power of vintage style swimwear. And it has honestly changed my life. Well, it’s at least changed my enjoyment of beach holidays! I would whole-heartedly recommend vintage style swimwear to any woman who wants to feel confident and beautiful at the seaside, even if you don’t normally dress in a retro inspired style. Here’s my heartfelt guide to finding the perfect vintage style swimsuit for you.
Why A 1950s Swimsuit Is So Fabulous
A 1950s bathing suit is the beach equivalent of a wiggle dress. An outfit in itself, it’s flattering and feminine, especially on women with curves. I love ones with halter necklines for complete cleavage control – it’s hard to pull off seaside chic when one boob is making a break for freedom. I do own a couple of bikinis bought in moments of extreme optimism, but I always go back to my one-pieces. Who wants to be suffering midriff-related anxiety when they’re trying to relax on holiday?
If You (Understandably) Want To Be The Only Person Who Has Worn Your Vintage Style Swimsuit
If the thought of wearing someone else’s delicates makes you want to take a shower, go for a reproduction swimsuit instead. Here are my favourite companies:
I love the Esther Williams brand, named after the glamorously splashy 1950s movie star swimmer. Here she is doing her leg exercises.
Esther Williams swimsuits hold a special place in my heart. My first ever vintage style one-piece was their cherry printed halter, shown in the first picture. The fit of their pieces is fantastically supportive and the prints are adorable – gorgeous florals, gingham and polka dots. They also come in regular and plus sizes.
Me in my floral swimsuit from Hell Bunny
My Hell Bunny swimsuit is one of my all time faves. The shape is so classic and so flattering on a curvy figure. I feel a million dollars in it. (You can read the full review here.) They make the same gorgeous style in a variety of retro-inspired prints.
Vintage reproduction clothing store, Pinup Couture, make the most incredible retro dresses. But they also make stunning, Marilyn-Monroe-inspired swimwear in regular and plus sizes. Perfect for poolside movie star glam.
Another tried, tested and adored range is Seafolly. My black polka dot and pink floral numbers are by this Aussie brand and I’m always impressed and relieved by their fit and support, as well as their beautiful retro designs. I’ve currently got my goggles on these.
Others making my wish list are these two from the charming UK webshop, Samantha Sage.
If You Want A Vintage Original
If you’re looking for the genuine article I recommend Glamour Surf or Etsy. Most of the vintage originals are expensive but they are so gorgeous they could be straight out of a Hollywood costume vault. I’m currently lusting after these beauties.
What To Wear On Your Way To The Beach
For the journey to my sunbaking spot I just pull on a pair of Tara Starlet high-waisted shorts, a retro headscarf and some giant sunglasses to complete the fifties vibe.
Now if only I can stop spending all my money on aspirational swimwear, I might be able to afford a holiday to wear it on. Happy sun-posing!
If you’re still thirsty for more retro swimwear options, including affordable styles, click here.