How Does Vintage Swimwear Compare To Vintage Inspired Options? I Tried Both — PHOTOS
Last year, my friend gave me a very pretty vintage-inspired swimsuit. Even more recently, an aunt loaned me an actual vintage bathing suit. As an avid swimmer and wannabe water baby, I decided to conduct an experiment to discover which type of vintage swimsuit held up best in real life. Although made by different brands, both had a similar shorts-like design at the bottom half and overall cut, and were the same size.
I've always loved photos of glamorous housewives and fun-loving pinups on the beach in their darling swimsuits from the 1950s. So I was pretty excited to try out my vintage-inspired one-piece, which looks like a vibrant '50s replica. I was equally looking forward to slipping into a much sportier, authentic vintage swimsuit, which reminded me of the athleisure outfits the Clueless gals sported during tennis class. My aunt thinks it's from the late '80s, making it just about the same age as me.
I used my local pool as the battle ground. I decided to complete the challenge over a course of two weeks, so as to spend as much time as I could in the water wearing each style. My swimming stroke of choice was to be the breaststroke, mainly since this is the only one I can complete multiple laps with (I really suck at front crawl). This is what happened.
Week 1: The Authentic Vintage Swimsuit
I really liked the sporty look of this one-piece and it was very comfortable, if a little tight in the shoulder straps. I just loved the shorts and the way they made me feel like I was ready for anything. Plus, there was no worry of butt cheeks escaping their confines when sporting this beauty.
Upon loaning me this swimsuit, my aunt had advised that I give it a dry run, just to ensure the white top half stayed opaque when it came into contact with water. We looked inside the suit and were happy to find that there was lining on its front half.
The Semi Transparent Trials & Tribulations
I really should have listened to the wise words of my aunt some more. We arrived at the swimming pool and got changed as per usual. She headed out to the pool while I nipped to the bathroom. Just to be certain, I decided to take a quick shower in the women's dressing rooms. I would normally use the one by the poolside, but to my horror, this cool swimsuit started to go see-through.
The bottom half of the suit was absolutely fine, but the upper bodice was almost transparent, making my boobs and nipples pretty visible for all the world to see (like, down to the shape and color of my areola). However, the show had to go on, and I came up with a cunning plan.
The Almost Impossible Mission
My plan was simple. I told myself that as long as I could make it to the pool, no one would be able to see my swimsuit mishap underneath the water. So I clamped each hand underneath my armpits and made my way. I quickly descended into the water as soon as I could. When I cornered my aunt, she couldn't see my basically naked top half thankfully. I then proceeded to swim multiple laps to gauge the comfort and fit of the suit.
Much to my surprise, the suit felt glorious. It was really comfortable yet tight enough to keep all of my lady parts in place. The shorts made me feel like I could move freely and I generally enjoyed the overall experience. The only downside was the transparency, which could've been down to the suit's age or its design. I placed my hands back into my armpits when I was ready to leave, and walked as quickly as I could back into the changing rooms.
Week 2: The Vintage-Inspired Swimsuit
Next up was this classically feminine and floral vintage-inspired swimsuit. Before putting it on for the first time, I thought I'd really love it. I liked the bright colors, the pattern, the fact that it had under-wiring, and the halter neck tie. It also benefitted from a secure bra clasp fastening at the back, which looked promising on the support front.
However, when I put it on I was a little disappointed to find that it didn't look quite as good as I assumed it would. The leg holes were very tight and I felt quite constrained. Plus, the halter neck and bra fastening combo didn't leave me feeling as supported as I had hoped.
The Cutesy Suit & A Compliment
I wore this swimsuit underneath my clothes as usual and then got undressed at the swimming pool. My aunt commented on how pretty this latest addition to my swimming routine was. The girly design was definitely something I liked about it. I also enjoyed how vibrant the colors were. Most importantly, I was a big fan of the fact that it didn't go see-through when I took my pre-swim shower. Unfortunately, my joy did not last very long.
Another Nipple Disaster
As soon as I began swimming, I noticed a big problem: The swimsuit kept falling down. The force of the water on each stroke pushed the top half down so that my nipples were popping out constantly. It kind of ruined the swimming experience since I felt like I couldn't be as powerful in my laps as I would've liked to.
How Do They Compare?
Both swimsuits had their pros and cons. The authentic vintage was a joy to wear since it was super comfortable and I felt I could move freely in it. However, the top half of this suit became see-through when wet. The vintage-inspired one was really pretty and made me feel extremely glamorous, but it was too tight in places and I felt I couldn't swim properly while wearing it, due to my cleavage falling out every five seconds.
All in all, I don't think either of these swimsuits is ideal for actual swimming. That being said, the authentic one would be great for an active day at the beach (as long as you don't get it wet), while the vintage-inspired piece could be awesome for lounging around by the pool (as long as you don't go in it).
In the meantime, it looks like I'll be sticking to modern swimwear.
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Images: Phoebe Waller