Allow me to obsess for just a moment. I am consumed with proportion and cut. I think anyone who gets really into sewing probably is. I am basically Stacey from What Not to Wear when it comes to being really exacting about what is flattering, and nothing hurts me more than seeing lovely ladies in clothes that just don't flatter their figures. Which is why most swimsuits make me want to set things on fire. It's like the swimsuit designers of the world meet once a year Bilderburg style to plot how to make our bodies look as shitty as possible. If you are a curvy girl, it is really hard to find a great suit.
Which is why I was so psyched when vintage suits came back into style a few years ago. This Vanity Fair cover made me SQUEAL WITH JOY:
Norma Kamali is responsible for the red & white suits, and has been making the same styles since 1974! Unfortunately for me, I soon discovered that her swimsuits cost +$400 (although she recently debuted an inexpensive version of the red suit for $98 - you can find here). So a few years ago I hired someone to make me a knockoff of that red guy in black. This was long before I started sewing, so please forgive me. For $100 she made me this pretty awesome number:
I wore the crap out of this. Unfortunately there were a few weird construction issues with it, and it has stretched out and lost its shape over the years. Plus, she used A LOT of fabric and when it gets wet, it becomes a little.... droopy. So I've been thinking a lot about what to replace it with. Last summer, I found a blue version of this guy at TJ Maxx in Puerto Rico for a song:
And this leads me to the biggest issue with a lot of "vintage" style suits today: they ruin your butt. If you don't have a tight little tushy, the seats of these bathing suits are going to give you 4 cheeks, not 2 (Caitlin Moran has a really great rant on this issue when it comes to underwear in this amazingly awesome and hilarious book). With the exception of a rare Anthropology or ModCloth selection, most vintage-style suits have a more contemporary high-cut rear end. And unless you are doing squats on a regular basis they are not half as flattering as the originals they are modeled on.
Let me show you what I mean:
Why OH WHY doesn't the back of that suit on the right come down 2 more inches? In my humble opinion, a traditional bathing suit bottom cut is just not flattering if you have a booty. What IS flattering is a modest brief that cuts straight across under where your fanny ends. Think SUPER short spandex mini skirt. No bumps, no bulges, no 4 cheek surprise. Just pure 50's ass magic.
So, in my quest for the most perfect of all suits, one that gives me the coverage I want, the vintage moxy I demand, and the ass flatterage I require, I will be making the perfect swimsuit in the coming months. I've done a bunch of research on patterns for vintage suits and have found a few I like, but they are hard to find and not exactly what I am looking for. I basically intend to make this, but about 1-2 inches longer:
How you ask? Well, Burda Style, light of my life, has this pattern. FOR FREE. A bunch of enterprising ladies have modified it to their whims (I especially like this one, this one and this one) so I will be using it as a base, but modifying it to include the ruched bodice. I found this tutorial via Pinterest on installing bra cups so I'd like to add that for a little extra support.
What I love about the green Kamali up there is that it looks so exquisitely well made - the ruching details and the quality of the material look almost couture, for a swimsuit. I would really like to try and capture that quality and attention to detail in my version. And thankfully, I have a friend who's father is in (get ready for this) THE SPANDEX BUSINESS. I'm going to pop over to their warehouse and find a really nice, heavy-weight spandex in a beautiful colour (hopefully in that jade green). And then enjoy every Sunday this summer at my favorite pool on the mountain in Montreal. With a perfectly attired bottom. No 4 cheek swimsuit butt massacre on this girl.
Some more inspirational swimsuits from heaven:
I love the straps and front panel ruching on this Jantzen.
The details on this make me happy. Someone commented on Pinterest where I originally posted this that it looks like something someone would wear to the bar these days. A swim-up bar maybe!
Ri-Ri in a high waisted white bikini by Norma Kamali. I'd like to recreate this bottom but make it more of a mini skirt and do a top with a little more support.
More Kamali magic. If you like this suit you should check out her site. She has a million versions. This is soooooooo chic and Parisian and amazing. I feel like millionaires would fall in love with you if you wore this. I'm not super into millionaires but I am cuckoo for this mesh.
AYE CARUMBA!! I lurve it, I loaf it. The chevrons make your waist appear teeny weeny and that faux corset?? Get out of town! To a beach vacation!
Swimcaps are the best. That is all.
I love the ruched back on this - gives the bum a little shape and definition.
Some great patterns:
This could be AMAZING in the right fabric. I think it only looks granny on your granny. On a cool girl, this would be such a sexy suit.
Vogue 6771!!! That sheer cover-up has no point other than to be amazing and I love the cut of that bikini's jib.
The back of this is PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.
And for the piece de resistance (currently on sale for $150 on ebay!!!!):
Yeah, I know. I want to die too.