It's the rare occasion that I'm surrounded by vintage clothing and don't feel the need to dig for treasures. Anyone who shops vintage knows that a certain amount of patience, energy, and curiosity is required to find even one piece perfect for you when you're confronted by tons of options, all distinct, all special, and all antique. Normally, I love this game. But one Sunday afternoon, summer of 2011, I was at one of the biggest vintage clothing sales in town, and I didn't feel like shopping. I sat on a bar stool close to the dressing room and watched my friends try on piece after piece, doing that vintage shopping dance of finding something great, trying it on, realizing it doesn't fit, or the fabric's weird, then trying again, until...eureka!! You have found the perfect cocktail dress, high-waisted jean, or rock tee.
As I sat wondering where my shopping mojo had gone, my eye kept wandering to a headless mannequin just across the room, sporting the loudest neon 80's bikini top I had ever seen. The shop owner advised me that it was the only top she had left, and that it wasn't being sold with a bottom. An idea sparked. All I had to do was find a few cheap, plain bikini bottoms and that one top, with its rainbow of candy colors, could outfit a week of sunbathing, at least. The mannequin was left topless, and an obsession with vintage swimsuits was born.
Aside from the versatility of a single bikini top, vintage suits, particularly from the 50s and 60s, tend to be a bit more modest than contemporary ones, which leaves so much room to wear them as full outfits. For those uncomfortable with the idea of wearing what amounts to a second hand swimsuit, we've got some ideas on how to indulge in the delicious quirks of the vintage suit without the...discomfort. Learn How to Take Vintage Swimsuits Beyond the Pool!