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May 19, 2012

Vintage Swimsuits-a-go-go!


Readers, you know how I am: once I get an idea in my head I can't let it go.  My new obsession is the swimsuit pattern above, McCall's 3165, which I bought yesterday on Etsy for $12 (mine comes in a slightly more beaten up envelope) -- quite cheap for this type of thing.

What's amazing about this pattern, which dates from 1955, is how closely it resembles the famous (OK, I admit, I only discovered it yesterday) Rose Marie Reid Hourglass Maillot swimsuit.  I'm not making accusations, but somebody copied somebody.



Ever the obsessive online researcher, and now with a Pinterest account in my arsenal, I quickly created a Vintage Swimsuit Project board to assemble my data, which can be viewed here.



Friends, what do you think of those little ruched hips, or bloomer-like "bubble" bottoms, or whatever you wish to call them?  Is this a flattering look?   It certainly allows room for redundant flesh, a term I learned watching those plastic surgery consultations in episodes of Extreme Makeover.  The other term I learned from that makeover-with-scalpels reality show is reveal used as a noun, as in, It's almost time for the big reveal!

Anyway, another strange feature of the Rose Marie Reid Hourglass Maillot is that it is boned -- you don't think those models looked that way naturally, do you?



Here's an hourglass maillot for sale on Etsy, which also boasts a peek-a-boo bust shelf.  (I don't think the McCall's pattern includes that but one can dream.)  What's nice about the shelf is you can pick up some hot dogs at the snack shack and still have your hands free for Cokes.


Here's another version, without the shelf.




I am so excited about this suit that I may suggest Cathy's doctor induce labor early -- we want to fit this outfit in while the weather is warm.

Now, as always, there is another option.  Before I stumbled upon McCall's 3165, I had already purchased Advance 2467.  Clearly this is an early Forties bathing suit, and it comes complete with hooded topper/beach cover up.  It's adorable and so reminiscent of actress Marsha Hunt in casual beach attire.



The jacket is also similar to Lana Turner's in The Postman Always Rings Twice, though Lana's has lapels.  Can you imaging toting those shoulder pads to the beach?


In closing, readers, which swimsuit do you prefer, the Fifties McCall's or the Forties Advance?   I'm partial to the McCall's Hourglass Maillot knock-off (or inspiration, as the case may be) though, let's face it, Cathy is less an hourglass than a grandfather clock.  The boning should help.

How about that ruched tush (say that ten times fast) -- would you be caught dead in it?

Have a great weekend everybody!


33 comments:

  1. Oh ... a boned bodice bathing suit , I do recall looking at a few post-wool era bathers & they are not made from fabric with any stretch to it , so the ruched fabric is probably done over a sturdy lining layer . The ones I remember are some sort of a bangaline like weave .

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  2. oops ! what a typo - bengaline ! LOL

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  3. The hourglass maillot would be great for Cathy. For me however it brings back traumatic memories of PE uniforms with bloomer style bottoms. Who wants their hips to look bigger?

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  4. Bloomers and boning. Surely these bathing suits were not designed for swimming!

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  5. what about one with more directional ruching , like this vintage gem :

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/45783239/super-1960s-yellow-floral-sunshine

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    1. Wow, that is ruched up the wazoo! Very elegant though.

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  6. Ooh make both! Honestly - it won't take that much fabric!
    I think the ruching over the hips is quite flattering. I've found sometimes adding bulk gives the impression of reducing it for some mysterious reason.
    It does bring back memories of my first pair of PE shorts when I was about six - bright red rompers, gathered at top and bottom!

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  7. I can't believe that the fifties one would actually be comfy to swim in, and the forties looks exactly like a sundress....

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  8. "Computer says no"--Little Britain fans? Anyone? I love your vintage styles, but this is one area I'm more comfortable with modern fabrics that will hold you in in all the right places. I want my swimsuits to provide support, not incorporate my shape in their design. I'm thinking this would be cute on a stringbean figure, but how many of us are shaped like that. I'm thinking cousin Cathy might be able to pull it off tho, she has a nice slender build and not at all 'hippie'--that is until she got preggers. That might all change post baby.

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  9. I love the ruffle butt on the polka dot number but I have to say that there is nothing appealing about a squishy looking ruffle crotch. A slim front and ruffle bum would be so cute! The boning is very glamorous but I suppose impossible to swim in. And all those gathers would hold in a gallon of soggy bottom water.

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    1. Alice:

      Something tells me that a slim front and ruffle bum may not be the most felicitous look for Cathy....

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  10. These aren't swimsuits but SUN suits...I agree with Always Alice. Yet some of the modern ultra tight, ultra revealing suits are not at all glamorous or becoming or suitable for swimming. So there must be a population out there who goes to the beach for reasons other than swimming or even sunning. I'm not in it!

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  11. So, is this as close as you will come to hinting at an upcoming swimsuit-sew-along?

    Bring back the actress, or let Prachee be you muse until Cathy is camera ready once more.

    MPB should be the MGM of blogging beauties; high production values with one stellar face after another.

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  12. I'm curious to know how any of these swimsuits look once they're wet (on a person, that is)... what happens to the ruching? Does it sag down to knee level? Or are these like those legendary white lycra swimsuits you buy that should never go near the water - poolside is close enough, for displaying the perfect body...

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    1. I collect these swimsuits. The ruching pretty much stays where it is, once wet. The fabrics are usually a stiff cotton or a swimsuit material that seems to be 10x as thick as a modern swimsuit material with little to no stretch.

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  13. I say yes to the ruched tushie and hips!

    I think it would give me some balance, as I am busty without the bodacious booty to match.

    As for boning...do you think the bendy plastic kind would get the job done?

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  14. I do remember a golden ruched number, with a lot of lycra. As I was 12, and had no development, the suit, and extra large (empty) bust area, with attendant foam, made me look curvier. Great for watching sea weed and finding pretty shells....The ruching was vertical. Now I wear (at age 62) tank suit with very high cut legs, for doing endless streams of laps....RE: the sunning type dresses look, I have a few of these patterns, and my idea was to lengthen into different lengths, and wear as a dress, made of cotton, with a bra simili inside, good for hot days in my fantasy world.... Cathie, in her vintage sewing life, in Quebec.

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  15. Yuk! First thought that came to mind is gym uniforms.Add puffy sleeves and a horrid green colour more suitable for a combat uniform and you know what mine looked like.

    Though I must admit, M3165 skirted version would look nice on Cathy.

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  16. I think one of the reasons for the ruching at the hips was that it may have given both wearer and onlooker something to blame a "hippy" look on - besides hips.

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  17. "I am so excited about this suit that I may suggest Cathy's doctor induce labor early -- we want to fit this outfit in while the weather is warm."

    Wouldn't be safer for the child to talk Cathy's sister into modeling for the swimsuit?

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    1. I always forget about that evil twin -- great idea!

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  18. Oooh, that McCall's IS obsession-worthy! I really like the Advance too.

    Honestly, I don't really see most modern bathing suits/bikinis as being designed with actual swimming in mind, either. So, whatevsy.

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  19. I am SOOOOOOOO Jealous. I can't believe that you picked up that pattern for only $12. I have religiously been watching both ebay and etsy for the swimsuit patterns because I have the same obsession right now;however, they are always in the "more than I can justify spending" range. I did buy a copy of a Modes Royal suit on etsy - very cool. Not a super fan of the bubble bloomers, but I love the ruched look.

    Turning green with envy - you lucky dog.

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  20. Ruching on the hiney.......I don't know about that!

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  21. I say do the McCalls! And, if you have no booty, the rouching will help give you some extra curves...in my opinion. I personally would wear it...it's a knockout! Can't wait to see Cathy's suit!! I bet she'll bounce back to pre-prego figure quite quickly if she knows this suit is awaiting!

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  22. Hmmm, no bikini waxing necessary back then! I'm curious, Michael -- they didn't have modern Lycra swimsuit fabric back then, did they? What kind of fabric do these patterns call for?

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  23. Hi all, actually there was spandex/lycra, I know for a fact, in my 1962 wonder woman suit. I do remember the ruched numbers, in cotton, filling up with sand, and extra water (yuck!!!!!!!!). I think the ruching was to make them fit better, when using cotton broadcloth-type fabrics. As for bikini waxing, not necessary. And certainly no thong items. Very scarey at the water parks I went to in the 90's. I stick to tank suits, as I am a swimmer. But many of the more fetching suits (vintage) could be lengthened, and become dresses. Cathie, in very hot, humid Quebec. Swimming outdoors starts soon at local pool.

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  24. I am a huge fan of suits like these, but I would never wear them out swimming--just as a romper or something. But I would love to see you make one!

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  25. Poofy derriere, absolument! With attention now poised upon the ample posterior side of J-Lo et. al., it is clear that interest in the front shelve is waning.

    Certainly Cathy would select that which is trending. Cinch her up and let that bottom bloom!

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  26. I admit, I'm a 40s girl when it comes to swimsuits! I think because the cute 2-piece styles were popular, and I love me a good 2-piece. :) (Though I have made attempts at making one for myself, I still only have "modern" 2-piece swimsuits to wear to the beach.) The 50s ones just too often emphesize the points I don't want to (pronounced bum), and I can't imagine wearing a boned swimsuit to the beach. Because you know I actually (gasp!) swim in the water. And somehow I think those boned wonders are a bit more suited to lounging stylishly on the sand than battling the waves. ;)

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  27. hmmm... I don't need any extra fabric at the hips, that's for sure!! But I do really like the 50's hourglass shape. Tres jolie!!

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  28. I vote for the 40s swimsuit--it's still an hourglass shape. Even though I need help in the rear, I'm not sure that I like that front ruching. And the boning makes sense for keeping a strapless swimsuit up...

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  29. i adore a vintage swimsuit but love inspired ones more You need to check out My Sister Pat the label is amazing 50s inspired, functional and flattering to boot!

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