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June 29, 2010

Swimsuits over Time

The blog princess has been shopping online for a swimsuit and found this of interest:

From Jayne Mansfield to Heidi Montag, check out the most memorable bathing suit moments through the years.

bathingsuits.jpg

Is it just me, or has our in-your-face world lost something?

Posted by Cassandra at June 29, 2010 09:01 AM

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I dunno Cass. I think the bathing suits aren't really the problem, more of who's wearing them. The Matthew McConaughey suit is a HECK of a lot more conservative in 2006 than the Mark Spitz one from 1973 was, and there's functionally little difference between the Tyra Banks 2007 suit and the Elizabeth Taylor (undated) one piece or the Annette Funicello 1964 suit. And heck, the Halle Berry 2002 suit is a copy of the Ursula Andress 1962 suit (it's just orange instead of blue).

I think it's the in-your-face people rather than the clothes.

Posted by: MikeD at June 29, 2010 09:18 AM

A Speedo is functional, no? :p

Overall, swimsuits today are little like the ones I grew up with. Even the bikinis.

But then I'm not a huge fan of Heidi Montag's personal floatation devices either so what do I know?

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 09:53 AM

THIS is the most iconic swimsuit evar!
http://img518.imageshack.us/i/sexybuttxu0.jpg/

Posted by: Chuck Z at June 29, 2010 10:28 AM

OMG. I love it!

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 11:03 AM

...there's functionally little difference between the Tyra Banks 2007 suit and the Elizabeth Taylor (undated) one piece or the Annette Funicello 1964 suit.

I suspect this may be a woman thing, Mike. I'm not looking at the women's bodies but at the suits and overall look. I do see an enormous difference between Tyra Banks' suit and Liz Taylor's, but that may be b/c I sewed for years and am interested in tailoring.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 11:05 AM

I love the old ones better, both bikinis and the bodies.
By virtue of my birthplace, I am more accustomed to speedos :o) Craig's 2006 swim shorts are the exact replica of what my father wore in the Summer of 1972 and I have a picture to prove :o)

Posted by: olga at June 29, 2010 11:40 AM

Is it just me, or has our in-your-face world lost something?

Yes and no. Or possibly no and yes. It's hard to think of which when I'm distracted. I do know this, whatever it is there's a "yes" involved. Or maybe a "no." What's the question?

Posted by: spd rdr at June 29, 2010 12:31 PM

I love the old ones better, both bikinis and the bodies.

Yeah, me too Olga.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 12:52 PM

"What's the question?"

What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Posted by: Peanut Gallery at June 29, 2010 02:16 PM

I think the older styles are often more flattering. And, the celebrity body images back in the day were more healthy, too.

I've hated shopping for swimsuits. More of the ones that are out there aren't designed for those of us who are more curvaceous. Although I've lost quite a bit of weight in the last year and a half, I can't just go into a regular store and buy a suit off rack. In order to get one that fits like I need it to, I'd have to go to a specialty shop and pay an arm and a leg....and I don't need a suit enough right now to justify that kind of expense...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 29, 2010 09:47 PM

My current (long, baggy) swimming trunks are - wait for it - camo pattern.

Go figure, huh? ;-)

Posted by: camojack at June 30, 2010 01:40 AM

I suspect this may be a woman thing, Mike. I'm not looking at the women's bodies but at the suits and overall look. I do see an enormous difference between Tyra Banks' suit and Liz Taylor's, but that may be b/c I sewed for years and am interested in tailoring.

Sure, Miss Taylor's has straps and is more subdued in color... what else am I missing?

And if you think the bikinis are different, you apparently haven't seen shots of what they wear in Brazil. And no, I'm not really comfortable about the fact that my sister is working there now. But I figure I ask no questions, she'll tell me no lies.

Posted by: MikeD at June 30, 2010 08:53 AM

Ms. Taylor's fits her (as do most of the older suits); the fabric is cut and sewn to fit the curves of her body. The modern suits look like the wearers are being squeezed into the shape of the suit.

Posted by: htom at June 30, 2010 10:15 AM

That was well said.

The biggest difference I see between the older suits and the newer ones is tailoring - Taylor's suit (and I'm working from memory) is shaped to fit the female body as opposed to stretching over it.

The top of her suit had a cuff on it, I think, and I believe the bust area was gathered horizontally. That has the effect of subtly enhancing and calling attention to the bust.

Ursula Andres' bikini has similar detailing - the bust is gathered where Halle Berry's is plain.

I sometimes like to shop at retro and vintage clothing stores and when I do I am always amazed at the detailing in 1950's dresses. They emphasize a woman's curves - there is often detail at the bustline, the waist is nipped in to a full, gathered skirt that creates the illusion of an hourglass figure even if the wearer wasn't endowed with one by her Creator :p

And then there are those divine pencil skirts with the finely tailored short jackets. You can't find clothes like that for sale any more.

I'm in the process of replacing the business suits in my closet and I've just about decided to spend the money having one custom made b/c women's suits are so Godawful ugly and poorly made nowadays.

We see the same thing in furniture - there are few furniture makers these days who rival the materials and workmanship of older manufacturers like Baker or Kittinger. We have more, but it's more poorly made.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2010 10:28 AM

Ms. Taylor's fits her (as do most of the older suits); the fabric is cut and sewn to fit the curves of her body. The modern suits look like the wearers are being squeezed into the shape of the suit.

AH, ok this makes sense, and for once, I can honestly explain it. Think back to the 60's. What were swimsuits made of? Linen? I'm honestly not sure. I wasn't around at the time. But basically, it was cloth. Generic, everyday, not-really-stretchable cloth. For a business suit to look good, it had to be tailored. For a swimsuit to look good, it had to be tailored.

Now think of today. What are most swimsuits made of? Spandex. Or some other manner of stretchy cloth. Why? Because it can fit a broader range of bodies without needing to be tailored. It's cheaper. The material I mean, not the women (ok... MAYBE the women, but that's more of a judgment call).

I'm in the process of replacing the business suits in my closet and I've just about decided to spend the money having one custom made b/c women's suits are so Godawful ugly and poorly made nowadays.

Because suits today are meant to be worn off the rack. You're not expected to take them to a tailor for proper fitting. In fact, I've had exactly one item of clothing tailored in my adult life, and those were my dress blues for my wedding. Other than on post, I'm not sure where I WOULD find a tailor anymore.

Clothing is cheaper because consumers like to spend less. Furniture is cheaper for the same reason (that and older hardwoods are more difficult to export and import now due to regulations and restrictions). The suppliers are giving we consumers what we are asking for with our wallets. It's OUR fault cheaper materials are used. It's OUR fault poor construction is used. It's OUR fault tailored suits are now a luxury item rather than a business requirement.

And when new wonder materials like spandex allow a swimsuit to fit sizes 4-8 rather than size 6 only, and also can help give that hourglass figure (some toothpaste tubing aside) well, that makes it cheaper for the manufacturer, the store, and the consumer. And we consumers do love us some savings.

Posted by: MikeD at June 30, 2010 01:18 PM

I can't quite put my finger on it, but my reaction was also similar to Mike's. The person wearing the swimsuit seemed to be more "in your face" than the swimsuits themselves.

For example, take (I think was) Eva Longoria's one piece. It is far and away more modest than, say, the Heila Monster's bikini but it still seemed more "in your face" to me than many of the older swimsuits that were comparitively more revealing.

Perhaps, that too is related to the subtle detailing you just mentioned that you just don't notice until it isn't there.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 30, 2010 01:54 PM

Lots of different fibers were used in the 1950's and 60's; Rayon and Nylon, as well as cotton and blended fibers. Linen and silk would probably not be used. Various plastics substituted for whalebone. Latex panels were sometimes used for shaping.


Different weaves of the same fiber give different stretching characteristics, and different ways of orientating the grain of the fabric to the pieces cut can greatly change the way the fabric drapes. Modern clothing design is almost architectural, rather than organic. Maximizing the use of fabric (well, minimizing the waste) vs. maximizing the fit of the product.


I've got expensive shirts where the grain runs sligh