Memorial Day is here, and Memorial Day means the beginning of summer*! And summer means bathing suits! And bathing suits mean bathing suit shopping, and bathing suit shopping means falling further and further into despair as a cheerful shopping attendant tries to bring you ill-fitting bikinis, ending up like a real-life version of a late-80s Cathy comic. ACKKKK!!!
It doesn’t have to be like this. Once upon a time, swimwear experienced a golden age, when toned abs and cellulitic thighs alike were covered by thick woolen fabric. I’m talking about the 1860s through the 1920s, the bathing suit’s zenith.
So, like so many fashion magazines, we thought we would help you find a bathing suit. Nay, not just any bathing suit, the absolute perfect old-timey bathing suit for your body type. Spoiler: it probably weights over 5 pounds and comes with a superfluous belt.
* Also technically, solemn reflection for those who have gone before us. But mostly barbeques! [Source: my Facebook feed]
The real challenge for the apple-shaped woman is choosing between a two-piece (which is going to expose your midsection), or dealing with clingy Lycra and spandex adhering to your belly. However, in the 1880s you could let it all hang out (and then immediately cover all of it with wool). For ladies who carry their weight in their (neatly corseted) midsection, these full, proud pantaloons lead the eye down and balance your proportions. Bonus: the giant legs makes your feet look like Barbie feet tacked onto a My Buddy doll.
In the present day, ladies with serious hip-thigh situations spend a lot of time looking for bathing suit bottoms that actually cover their entire butt. In 1864, these styles from Godey’s Lady’s Book had your ass covered! As well as your knees, calves, and forearms. Note the shape of these swim costumes, which flare out… shall we say generously? from the waist. Today’s fashion is all about trying to camouflage your derriere, but this is a suit that says “oh, these hips are on purpose.”
Hey there, little lady! What better way to take advantage of your petite proportions than dressing like an actual pixie? You know everyone’s thinking it, anyway. Note the zig-zag hem on the far left, a style that says “I made this outfit out of a flower petal.” The style is complemented by criss-cross lace-up shoes, telling everyone on the beach “yeah, I could be a ballerina with this petite body shape and delicate swim dress.” The sassy turban at far right indicates “I’m Bohemian! But I mean, Bohemian in the “La Boheme” sense. I might have consumption. But look how petite!” Carrying a blanket around, like our friend in the “maillot” style, reminds other beach-goers that you are very tiny and cold.
With its kicky sailor collar, sodden wool skirt, and improbably small waist, the only way this suit could better enhance your hourglass figure is if your bosom gradually filled with sand if somebody tipped you over.
You’ve worked hard at the gym. You run, you lift, and summer time is the big payoff. So leave the pantaloons at home, because you have toned your way into this formfitting tank dress. In case people couldn’t tell that you work out by your awesome quads and triceps, you can steal a robe from an actual prizefighter to let them know you’ve been putting in your hours at the gymnasium.
If you’re prepared to rock this style, you will be showing a LOT of skin – so don’t let it get all burned and gross. Sport a straw witches’ hat with a four-foot brim to keep away unwanted sunbeams and attention. If you look this good, you gotta ward off those crowds somehow.
This demure nautical romper will cover up everything you want covered, and even some things you probably don’t.