Not seeing an itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini in your future? Go retro instead. It’s much easier to feel well dressed — instead of merely undressed — when you sport a retro swimsuit.
The beauty of retro and vintage-inspired swimwear, especially from the 1940s and 1950s, is the inherent elegance and sophistication of the designs. The notion of focusing on what you wear instead of on what you bare can be just as sexy as the most daring bikini. This is the concept at many stores including Shabby Apple and Rey Swimwear which both offer absolutely gorgeous swimsuits to flatter every figure shape.
The most difficult part of buying a swimsuit is choosing a source — there are pages and pages of retro-inspired swimsuit sites. Before you order, read their size charts carefully and check their return/exchange policies. Most brick and mortar stores commonly carry vintage-inspired suits as well because they’re so flattering and the best looks — maillot halters, underwire bra tops, skirted bottoms, etc. — are timeless.
The next task is figuring out what style is best for your figure and activity level. Even the most glamorous swimsuit loses its appeal if it provides zero support while you’re playing volleyball. If you enjoy beach sports look for suits with adjustable tops, wider straps and a bottom half that won’t ride up and cause discomfort. Many two piece retro bathing suits are sold separately, which allows you to buy your perfect sizes. This is particularly important with a larger bust size. Halter necklines with wider straps, bra-style tops and suits with underwire cups are best for a fuller chest or anyone looking for comfort and a bit more support.
One piece suits with princess or vertical seaming and ruching around the middle are best for apple shapes and look great on virtually everyone. The seams help visually elongate the body and shirring or ruching creates the illusion of a smaller waistline.
Pear shapes look best in sweetheart or structured bra tops with details like ruffles to add volume and visually bottom a heavier bottom half. Keep the bottom half of the suit simple or opt for a slightly flared skirted bottom that glides easily over the hips.
When you’re considering your next retro swimsuit, look for lingerie and dressmaker details — like boning and ruching — combined with unusual and often luxe fabrics — like tulle and velvet — that can transform your day at the beach into a glamorous event.
Reach for a faux or real flower to tuck behind your ear (or into your hat), retro shades and footwear (espadrilles or wedge sandals, for example) to match your chosen era to complete the look.