Retro swimwear is a hot summer trend

Published June 7, 2013 4:51 pm
Fashion • Retro swimsuits are modest, but still glamorous.
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Over the past few years, we've seen the return of 1950s styles in everything from dresses to shoes to hairstyles.

So it's no surprise that vintage-inspired swimwear will be more visible this summer. High-waisted bikini bottoms and bralike tops — à la Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly — as well as one-piece suits with cinched-in sides and halter tops will be prominent at the pool and beach.

The fabrics are retro, too, with gingham checks, sailor stripes, polka dots and playful prints.

Fashion experts say the vintage style is popular for at least two reasons: It looks good on many figures and it's modest while still being glamorous.

"Vintage swimwear is a result of classic fashion coming back into style and a welcome change by consumers wanting to relive the Grace Kelly and Jackie O. era of high-class society," said Jet Moody, editor at FashionUtah.com.

The site covers Utah fashion trends, designers and events.

She said vintage-inspired suits have an understated sex appeal. They show off a figure but don't give everything away, unlike some of today's skimpy styles.

Moody says this is why it is especially popular in Utah.

Chelsey Roberts, purchasing director at local swimwear boutique Called to Surf, agrees.

"Particularly in Utah, there is a desire to find styles that offer more coverage," she said. "They want a swimsuit inspired by the lines, colors and details of the beach-babe era."

But wearing vintage is not "looking exactly like your mom or your grandma did," Roberts emphasizes. It's "getting the ease and essence of a style from a time past" but with modern details to keep it fresh.

Moody said one of the reasons she likes retro swimwear is the "wearability factor." The styles fits a variety of body shapes and sizes. And because it celebrates the curve, it gives women the opportunity to showcase their best features. Many of the suits are cut to define the waist, which feminizes any body shape.

Here are a few buying tips for different body types:

Hide a tummy • Choose high-waisted suits that will cinch you in the middle, creating an hourglass figure and adding a little va-va to your voom. Gathers and ruching will also help camouflage trouble areas.

Smaller bust • Look for details to bring the focus upward. Bra cups are the perfect touch, and a sweetheart neckline will even out smaller shoulders.

Larger bust • Have sturdy adjustable straps and underwire. This added support works well with detailed bottoms to balance the look.

Try it on • The secret to the perfect swimsuit is in the fit. Roberts says even though swimwear is stretchy, don't buy a size that is too small or pulls too tightly. It can warp the shape of the suit and give you curves in places you don't want. Take the time to try on a variety of sizes and styles.

Pick the right pattern • Remember the size of patterns such as stripes and polka dots should be in ratio with your body, Moody says. For fuller bodies, choose larger polka dots and stripes. For petite bodies, look for patterns that won't overwhelm your frame.

Have fun • Retro looks include vivid reds, yellows and blues. Pick colors that look best with your skin tone, but don't be afraid of channeling your inner vintage vibe and standing out a little.


Where to get that look

Featured swimsuits are available at:

Called to Surf • 15 S. Rio Grande St., Gateway Mall, Salt Lake City; 801-456-1406. Open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Called to Surf • 4801 N. University Ave., Provo; 801-224-8400. Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Unique Vintage • online at Unique-Vintage.com


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