A Dip in Time: Retro poolwear makes a splash

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Photography by Zaire Kacz
Story by Melanie McGee Bianchi
Styling by Sara Fields

Before thong swimsuits, fringed half-shirts and other travesties of the modern seascape, beach beauties dressed with an eye for silhouette, achieving a certain sun-drenched élan. Figure-enhancing swimsuits, leisure-class sunglasses and an ankle-kissing caftan all nod to mid-century beach culture. And because of their enduring style, they can’t be relegated to kitsch.

In recent years, boutique online clothiers such as Modcloth, Esther Williams Swimwear (after the competitive-swimmer-turned-actress of ’40s and ’50s movie fame) and Pinup Girl Clothing have brought back retro-style swimsuits with halter bodices, ruched middles, high waists, and flattering leg cuts. The trend has even filtered down to the suits offered by mid-level outfitters and big-box lines like Land’s End and Catalina.

For a poolside shoot at Aloft Asheville Hotel, Sara Legatski, owner of Honeypot, provided dresses and swimsuits fit for an Old Hollywood afternoon at the Chateau Marmont: pellucid florals in swinging shapes, ornamented with such special finds as a pair of vintage Christian Dior sunglasses. Legatski believes vintage swimwear is popular not only for the nostalgia factor but because “the lines accentuate femininity while remaining modest. And yes,” she says, “I do think modesty is coming back.”

Apparel and accessories from Honeypot, swimcaps from Alanna Hibbard at Poutfits; vintage glasses, tray, and ice bucket by East West Vintage. Models: Leah Donatelli (in swimcap), Margaux Weinstock (in big hat), Trecy Bergen (blowing bubbles) and Heather Fisher (in white flower dress). Hair by Wesley Bolden and Carlton Alexander at Eclipse, makeup by Jennifer Sellers.

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