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Tag Archives: 1950s

Brace yourselves, my darlings.  It’s that time of year, again.

It’s swimsuit season.

I say “brace yourselves” because we women seem to do a mighty fine job of beating ourselves up when it comes to what we’re wearing in the pool or at the beach.

It’s just a pool, people.

Ditto for the beach.

No cause for that sheen of sweat and feeling of desperation in the pit of our stomachs, now is there?

Especially when we could wear this vintage beauty:

blue, crocheted 50s two-piece bathing suit

My kindred spirit friend Anne-Girl sent it to me a while ago.

It came through the real-for-true, old-fashioned mail, the way all vintage things should.

I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when I opened the package and found a blue, crocheted bathing suit — sized about four decades too small for me–to boot.

But maybe some of you get bathing suits through the mail all the time, because you buy your swimsuits online.

What, what, what?

I can’t fathom it.  You see, I’ve always gone for the tried-and-true way of buying a bathing suit:  the festival that is the fluorescent-lit mall or big box or even boutique store change room.  I am accustomed to the usual view of acres of me, unflatteringly lit with row upon row of fluorescents as I attempt to corral bits in with only the thin sheen of some kind of high-tech fabric.

Not high-tech enough, however, to hold up that which needs holding.

Or squeeze in that which needs squeezing.

Oh sure, we can send people to the International Space Station in suits that let them breathe in zero atmosphere but we can’t manage to conjure up a single swimsuit that will hold bits or squeeze bits the way I’d love them to.

I think I miss corsets.

two ladies wearing 1900s bathing suits

Photo credit: Dorothea and Maryal Knox in the surf at Rye, NY, ca.1900. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library, RIAS, Harvard University and http://www.consumingcultures.net/swimming-history-2

Or what about these pantaloon bathing costumes – weren’t those great?  Let’s ask some Hollywood/Fashion Week style dictator to bring those back. please oh pretty please.  I think I could love a bathing suit that covered me from ankles to earlobes.

I sunburn easily and am always cold.

Anne-girl’s mother obviously loved this blue beauty because she wore it and loved it enough to emigrate to Canada with it, save it for half a century and pass it down to her daughter, who–knowing a wacky vintage-loving woman across the province–passed it down to me.

I love it.  I love the buckles, I love the crochet, I love how the bottoms come up All The Way to the belly button (or higher).

On someone four decades smaller than I, of course.

Yep, love this bathing suit.

Being a woman brought up in the times when we were taught to constantly criticize our bodies, it has occurred to me that I can’t say “I love it” very often about a bathing suit in my possession.  In fact, the last bathing suit I loved was at the age of four.  I inherited a “bikini” from a more sophisticated five year-old friend and gleefully pranced about in it all summer, belly un-corraled.

My belly hasn’t been un-corraled in quite some time.  On account of, I don’t have any core strength, as evidenced by the fact that I recently started doing core exercises (again) and didn’t notice their effect in the slightest during my regular waking hours until I went to bed and Practical Man informed me in the morning that I had groaned each and every time I rolled over in the night.

It turns out, I roll over a lot.  And, apparently, if you exercise your core, it hurts to roll over.  But, then, hopefully, after a few months of midnight groaning, your rolly bits don’t roll over your waist band quite as much as they used to.

At least, they better not.

Well, unless you count the times while I’m in the change room, trying to corral all the bits of my (apparently un-used) core, hold up that which needs holding and squeeze in that which needs squeezing, with only thin pieces of man-made fabric at my disposal.

Which, I don’t.

Anyway, run away from the fluorescent humiliation that is the bathing suit change room.

Run away, I say!

And, stop skulking behind that beach towel.

Wear your suit proudly because you’re already a bathing beauty.

Just like this one.

blue crocheted two-piece 50s bathing suit

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 


Once upon a time, there was a very shiny, brown, plastic-y kitchen cupboard.

Naturally, I fell in love.  Y’know, as you do when something is–ahem–shiny, brown and plastic-y.  With fake gold handles.

Did I mention that it was also $15.00 (CDN)?

That’s practically free in many parts of the world (like England, where I paid an outrageous $38.00 for a one month supply of contact lens solution in 1996 but I forgave England because her chocolate bars were so cheap and Wispa love cannot be measured in mere dollars/pounds/euros because Wispa love is forever.  Especially, when it’s a bargain.)

But I digress.   I was in love with a brown, plastic-y thing.  Said plastic being manufactured during the last decades under a variety of monikers, which shall remain nameless–except for Arborite.  Did you know that quintuplets can basically ice skate down an Arborite table surface and it will lose none of its durability or give even a hint of the real wood underneath?  That stuff is practically indestructible.  And, oh-so shiny and plastic-y with its fake wood grain.

What’s not to love?

Oh sure, there are people who go for the obvious lookers of the furniture and decor world, all gleaming teeth and hair (or as they say in furniture and decor and seemingly every single show on HGTV:  granite you-know-whats and stainless steel blah, blah, blahs.)

There’s no challenge, no thrill of the hunt, no wallflower’s revenge in that!

I tend to find the least desirable thing at the auction/flea market/thrift store/garage sale and suddenly, my heart is overwhelmed with desire for, um…shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness.

Who knew?

Practical Man, that’s who.

As soon as we entered the shop, he immediately started sidling, as if drawn by an invisible magnet or the force of my slight hyperventilation–towards the most downtrodden, bits-missing, unloved, dented, moth-eaten, fake wood grained, shiny, brown plastic-y, ugly ducklings of the lot.  He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I honed in and it has become a race between us–to see who can leap on the most pathetic specimen of all, first.

I won, this time.  MWAH, HA, HA, HA.

This ugly duckling had pristine, original 1950s etched glass sliding doors and perhaps most important to a co-dependant, against-all-odds,  happily-ever-after gal like me:  POTENTIAL.

Tra-la-la!

Practical Man had that look on his face:  the one that said “wee-hoo, that is one ugly specimen, as usual” and then he had the look on his face that said, “and where, exactly, is she going to put that thing?!” but then, magically, his face transformed into the face that said, “well, it does appear to have lots of practical hide-y holes for useful stuff like levels and flashlights and lock washers” and then, most compellingly, he got the look on his face that said,”at least the darn thing is cheap.”

Then, he went to work with his superlative haggling skills.

I love Practical Man.

Then, not unlike Cinderella, our shiny, brown, plastic-y cupboard got some:

  • sanding (ugh) to scuff the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness,
  • priming (double ugh) to make the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness more receptive to paint and
  • painting (by which time Practical Man had swooped in to rescue me from the ughs) to hide and transform the shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness and

Voila!  Presto-Bongo!  Abra-Cadabra!  Our ugly duckling was further bejeweled with my collection of vintage Pyrex and suddenly, it turned into a vintage swan.

Finished dresser - sage green with vintage pyrex inside

Kind of a green swan and to my new friend, Disney Dancer, who I recently met in Colorado, I know that I’m mixing Disney/Hans Christian Andersen metaphors a little, but you get the idea.

Whatever the story, one thing is not in question:  Practical Man is like a real, live, fairy godmother for my shiny, brown, plastic-y cabinet.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.