Swim wear takes a plunge into the past for retro look
By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
This summer's trend in swimwear evokes images of Annette Funicello romping in 1965's “Beach Blanket Bingo.”
Women are returning to retro and vintage-inspired styles, says Michele Casper, swimsuit expert for Lands' End. “Those were such iconic moments. You will definitely see this style when shopping for your swimsuit.”
This season's suits come in many prints, patterns and colors — from florals to stripes to polka dots.
“Paisley is a vintage-inspired traditional style pattern, which is hot this summer,” Casper says. “Also, the one-piece is extremely popular, and it comes in many interesting silhouettes that are definitely retro. Some of these one-piece suits have such beautiful necklines, which flatter a woman's figure while providing accents, such as ruching and interesting straps and other feminine details.”
This vintage look has been an inspiration at Lands' End, Casper says. And, with the advancement in the technology of fabrics, designers have created suits that offer a vision of the past but include current details and advantages. They give great coverage, from making a tummy appear smaller to creating a longer-looking leg with a higher-waist cut — while still looking feminine.
“Fit is so critical because it gives a woman the confidence to wear a bathing suit,” Casper says. “And you don't have to match sizes or patterns anymore, so there are more choices to find the perfect suit for you.”
The trend has taken a while to get to the mass market, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch. And, she says, swim trends follow what's seen on the runways.
“Women have really embraced this style, which definitely looks more modern in terms of patterns,” Rubin says. “It is also a style where, if women aren't having their skinniest days, it helps them feel better because of how it fits. It gives a woman body-image security.”
One of the newer styles is a cropped tankini top, which gives the vintage play a more modern look. The cropped tankini works for nearly every woman, she says, except those who are short-waisted because of where it cuts on the body.
“It was a style I thought might make me look like a little girl, but I now own three of them,” Rubin says. “It is one of the most flattering looks. It accentuates the bust and makes the waist look super thin.”
Retro swimsuits are timeless and ageless in appeal because they offer great coverage while remaining flattering and comfortable, no matter how active you are on the beach, says Mary Rose MacKinnon, L.L. Bean spokeswoman.
Vintage swimsuits allow women to have a bit more coverage while still looking — and feeling — sexy and beautiful, says Kay-Lin Richardson, director of sales at Panache Swimwear. Halter necklines, ruched maillots, high-waisted bikini bottoms and bandeau bikini tops are all vintage-inspired swimwear shapes, she says. Designs range from classic polka dots to sweet florals to feminine fruit prints, such as cherries and pineapples.
“Women are interested in vintage clothing right now in general due to popular TV shows and their classic shapes,” says Amy Hirt, a stylist at ModCloth. “Vintage-inspired swimwear has equally flattering cuts and looks great on many different body types.”
Vintage-inspired swimsuits are a bit more conservative, she says, but still flatter curves for a sexy look.
“A lot of retro-inspired two-pieces are higher-waisted, which flatter the smallest part of the waist and elongate the legs,” Hirt says. “Side ruching in suits also slims the waist and middle area. Look for modern prints and bold colors. Our vintage-inspired suits have fun details like removable straps and peek-a-boo cutouts that give a fresh take to these classic styles.”
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