Welcome to Glamoursplash!

A blog with a daily splash of vintage swimwear, vintage fashion, news, designer profiles and all things retro.

We welcome you to shop our on-line boutique Glamoursurf, featuring everything you need from the beach to the bedroom. Glamoursurf specializes in vintage swimwear, vintage lingerie, resort wear, cover ups, swim caps and fun in the sun beach accessories.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fashion & the Figure: How Figures have Changed from the 1870's - 1940's

This article of how women's figures have changed, how fashions have changed to fit the figures, and how sports played a role in fashion and figure is fascinating. It was originally published in Woman's Home Companion in 1948.

Have you ever tried on a dress that your grandmother wore? Chances are you couldn't get into it. The waistline was much too tiny and too high for you. The blouse was too tights and the skirt stopped at your ankles instead of sweeping gracefully to the floor as it should.

Women's figures have changed astonishingly since 1873 when WOMANS HOME COMPANION first appeared. Recently a study was made at several colleges to determine how measurements of students today and a generation ago compare. It was found that modern girls are taller and also slenderer - though the weigh several pounds more.

Only shoulders haven't changes - they measure about the same. But waists today are bigger and chest expansion greater. Hips, measured from bone to bone are narrower. But the girth of the modern girls hips is greater - although she has a narrower pelvis. As for feet, daughter couldn't begin to squeeze into mothers old shoes.

Principal causes for these changes are a freer style of dress, increased interest in sports and physical education, better and more abundant food and faster pace of living. You can't develop your body encased in a whale boned corset or trapped in voluminous trailing skirts. But fashions gradually change when a new sport or activity gains popularity among women. See how this works out in the accompanying photographs.

It took a lot of pull to be a glamour girl in the 1970s. Every woman's ideal was to have a waist small enough to be circled by a mans hands.

And a woman's life in the 1870s was just as circumscribed as her waist - confined mostly to social and domestic duties. From childhood on,, as you can see above, her attire greatly limited her freedom of movement.

Then in the 1890's bicycling became a tremendous fad. A doctor of the period declared that it was doing more for women's health than any invention in two hundred years.

Bathing - not swimming - is the word for this. Ladies took it up at the turn of the century. But clothes for all sports were still far to cumbersome to allow very much physical development.

Pioneer gym classes - in the early 1900s - were hardly considered respectable. Even the girls wept with embarrassment when they first showed themselves in bloomers.

In 1900 corsets were still laced tight as the traffic would bear. But the hourglass figure of the 1870s gave way to the straight front above - heralded as a revolutionary change.

By 1910 there was a much greater variety of sports for women - but all leisurely.

1917 made women daring. Recall the National League for Womens Service?

After the peace women became completely "emancipated." They threw away their corsets and adopted a careless flat-chested round-shouldered posture - the debutante slouch.

Before World War I a woman alone on a golf course - playing well- was rare.

But by 1920 strenuous tennis like Molla Mallory's here raised nary an eyebrow.

The 20s brought real swimming - and simple suits. Above: Annette Kellerman

And the lively one-step also came in. Above: Carlos Sebastian and Joan Sawyer.

Modern women, relieved of household drudgery, are adept at many sports requiring skill, daring, speed and stamina. Their sports clothes today allow maximum freedom of movement.

During World War II it was considered not daring but the duty of women who could join the services. Scores like these Waves - apprentice seamen - served.

Today's tall slender long-waisted women make girls of grandmothers day seem dumpy. Modern figures are not only beautifully proportioned but strong, lithe and vital-looking.

Interesting article! It shows the importance of how when purchasing vintage items today, you need to be cognisant of how women wore these clothes back then. Particular importance should be placed on securing the appropriate undergarments for period fashions to make them fit like they should. Also of interest is how the introduction or role of sports has changed women's figures over the decades. Oh yes, there is also the food, and how either the consumption, manufacture, availability and quality have played a role on the figure since the 1940's, but that's a whole other blog post.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Swan Look is a Young Look

This ad is from 1948 edition of Woman's Home Companion for Swan Pure White Soap. The ad is titled 'Feel Swans exclusive Super-Creamed Blend!' and goes on to pronounce; 'Feel it in the smoother cake! Feel it in the creamier lather! Let Swan keep your skin looking younger!'

This image is part of that ad. It looks to me like she's wearing a swimcap as a hair cap with the exception of the tie ends under her chin. It even has the water guard ribbing. I'm wondering if these were the pre-cursor to the swimcaps of the 50s? Certainly there were swimcaps inthe early 19th century and beyond, they came in many shapes, materials and ways of wearing them. But this is a first for me to see one so similar used in the shower as part of an ad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I am Thankful For

I wish all of you a lovely day filled with warmth, happiness, love, family and maybe even a little food.

A few of things I am thankful for:
~My husband, a wonderful father, friend and companion - I Love you!
~My daughter, a talented beautiful young girl who is turning into a beautiful woman.
~My family and friends, supportive and always there to offer a helping hand.
~Freedom of Expression
~Culture and Art
~Education and Knowledge, learning new things
~Change & Growth

What about you, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Fashion Birdcage - The Vintage Edition

An on line e-zine from the Fashion Birdcage has issued a cool new issue focused just on vintage fashion . There is some amazing vintage fashion in this issue, treat yourself and go have a look here. We're excited to be included for a few selections from Glamoursurf and GlamourSavvy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GlamourScoop - Nicole Jenkins of Circa Vintage Clothing

Today we share our interview with you of Nicole Jenkins, owner of Circa Vintage Clothing in Australia. Circa is a retail vintage clothing shop run by Nicole Jenkins. Circa's focus is on mens and ladies wear dating from the Victorian era to the late 1970s.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I own and run a vintage clothing shop called Circa Vintage Clothing, in Melbourne, Australia.

What is your own personal style like?

I like to dress for my figure and age, and as a curvier woman in my 40s, the classic styles of the '40s and '50s suit best. Generally I wear a simple and well cut black or floral dress, a scarf or brooch and lowish heels as I'm on my feet all day in the shop or working with the stock. I always wear a petticoat and stockings.

What was your inspiration for starting Circa?

I've always loved vintage but over the years my career took me in a different direction - in 2003 my job was being outsourced overseas and so I started to consider new options. An opportunity presented itself to buy the vintage clothing shop that I had managed in the '80s, so I set up Circa - my own little piece of vintage heaven.

Can you describe your process for selecting items for your store?

When I'm buying stock, I always check for condition and quality - I don't worry too much about sizes because all of them are needed. I do a lot of restoration but the preference is always for pieces that need minimal work and have minimal stains - if repairs or intensive treatment are needed, I'll usually still buy them if the price is right but I have to factor in what I need to do, and the likelihood of making them saleable - if I fail, the garment will end up at the thrift shop.

For some time now I've been heavily stocked so I don't buy as much as I'd like simply because I lack the space to store it - some things are always in demand though, so I'll buy particular items that are hard to find - eg '40s fitted jackets, '50s party dresses, good mens suits.

The second and more important selection is when I choose from my stockroom, what will go into the shop at any given time. This time I'm looking to meet seasonal demands or fill gaps in my size, style or garment range. The chosen garments are then washed or dry cleaned, ironed and repaired.

You also have an online store, what do you specialize in?

I'm considering setting up an online store but for the moment, I just trade through the bricks and mortar shop.

You currently have a dress from your personal collection on loan for a show, tell us about that.

Five of my dresses have been included in an exhibition on "What Women Wore" at Melbourne's City Museum. It's a small display of dresses from the 1820s to the 1960s and includes my earliest dress, which dates from about 1830. It's one that a magazine collector donated to my collection over twenty years ago and it's the first time it's been on display for the public. Entirely hand sewn of linen-lined silk, it features large leg o'mutton sleeves, a bell-shaped skirt and petal collar which is smaller over the bodice and larger over the sleeves - it also has a high waist and a slight bustle formed by cartridge pleats at the rear. The previous owner worked for an auctioneer, I assume that is where it crossed his path - it's extremely rare to find garments of this age in Australia, as we were a very young nation at that time. In fact, my dress pre-dates the city of Melbourne by five years.

You have recently launched a book called "Love Vintage", tell us why this needs to be on our bookshelf.
"Love Vintage" is the book that I wanted to read when I first started collecting thirty years ago - it tells you all about the styles that were in fashion during each era, the major designers and why their work was important and what every day people were wearing as well as the elite. It talks about fabric and detailing - how to identify and how to care for and preserve your garments. It also includes over 350 colour photographs and illustrations from vintage fashion catalogues. It demystifies sizing and labelling systems and how these have changed over the years - in short, it empowers you to accurately identify the age and origin of vintage garments from the 1920s to the late 1970s. It also has a useful section on garment styles and when they were popular.

Click on the cover image for ordering information.

Of special interest is your upcoming talk on vintage swimwear on The Collectors, December 4th. For those of us not is Australia, is this a television show? Is there a place we can go to watch or hear the program?
The ABC TV show "The Collectors" is screened on Friday nights in Australia - sadly it won't be available overseas but a copy may find it's way onto Youtube.

UPDATE: We've been contacted by the Collectors and have been told that ABC posts the shows on their website the week after they have aired on TV. So, if you're interested like we are in Nicole's swimwear interview, you can download it here the week after it airs.

What other blogs do you read that you think would be of interest to the vintage community?
One of the best things about the web is that there are so many like-minded people out there exploring their interests. I have a long list, but my favourites are the Vintage Fashion Guild blog, and those by fellow VFG members like Dorothea's Closet, Denise Brain and Fuzzy Lizzie. I also love the blogs of Gala Darling and Super Kawaii Mama because they show how a modern woman can effectively incorporate vintage into their day to day style (although it must be said that SKM has a very old school Hollywood glamour look, of which I approve entirely). For a more traditional vintage approach, I recommend "Diary of a Vintage Girl", the blog of English rose Fleur DeGuerre.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about vintage fashion?
The one I hit the most is the myth that all vintage comes in tiny sizes - at Circa I have everything from a size 2 (Australian, about a -2 US if there is such a thing) to a 20 (about a US 16). Of course, the prettiest frocks do tend to be small sizes, but as I point out to ladies, they were usually worn by teenagers. Modern teenagers are still much smaller than the fully grown big sisters. There are lovely dresses of all sizes, and no matter what size you are, you can't possibly fit them all.

Are there certain eras that you like?
I find that every era has it's strong points - and a figure type that will suit it best. Whilst personally I wear '40s and '50s, you can't beat the '20s for beaded decadence, the '30s for lingerie or elegant evening wear, the '50s for casuals, cocktail and party wear, the '60s for stylish mod fashions and synthetic vibrancy, the '70s for sexy grown up glamour and retro styling the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s. Every era is wonderful in one way or another (although I'm yet to embrace the '80s).

Which designer(s) gives you inspiration?
There are so many wonderful designers, it's hard to choose - I love the genius of Vionnet and her bias draping, the cheekiness of Schiaparelli, the pleated silk techniques of Fortuny, the wearability of McCardell, as fresh today as it was in the '40s. I love every designer who works with fabric to create a new way of looking at something we think we've seen before.

What do you collect?
In many ways my shop's stock is my collection - a revolving door of several thousand pieces that changes every day. Occasionally I hang on to something (I have my current favourites) but generally everything I have will one day be for sale - clothes like to be worn and shown to the world, in my collection they're deprived of this opportunity - and I want my best pieces to be available for people to buy if they so wish.

When you aren't working on your store, blog or writing books, how do you spend your time?
I have a weakness for computer games, a desire to nurture my garden and hope to return to cooking now that I have more time. My vintage life certainly takes up the vast bulk of my time and energy though.

You'd laugh if you knew this about me.
In 1993 I ran off to the US with a girlfriend to do a "Thelma and Louise" inspired road trip. Unfortunately, it coincided with the Mississippi River flooding and at the last minute we couldn't drive across the country, instead doing the trip by rail - it was wonderful but not what we had planned.

Thank you Nicole for spending time with us today. You can visit Circa online at http://circavintageclothing.com.au/

or visit her store located at:

Circa Vintage Clothing

102 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
Phone : 03 9419 8899

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday
11am to 6pm

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Swimsuit Giveaway!

Ok, we know everyone loves a give-away, and Super Kawaii Mama has one you don't want to miss, just in time for Christmas. You want to win a vintage styled swimsuit don't you? She has a chance for you to win a swimsuit by For Luna on her blog. You've got 6 months to get in summer shape, and if you're in Australia, well, now is the prefect time for you. All you need to do is read her rules of engagement. Good luck!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bared Bosom

The third in a series on Rudi Gernreich Master of the Topless Swimsuit. Reprinted from Life magazine 1964.

This isn't the first time it's happened. Rev. Edward Wyatt, who led the anti topless pickets in Dallas, bewails the short sightedness of Americans. Looking back at a more demure age, he says, "We should not have let bathing suits come above the knees." He did not know, perhaps, that the pas has not been particularly modest. In some of the highest civilizations women have gone topless in public. The fashion was at its most distracting during Crete's Minoan period around 1600 B.C. It staged repeated and artful comebacks in the royal courts of Europe through the 18th century. In the decades since, the bosom has been fashionably flaunted but never fully bared.

This pottery statue of a Minoan goddess wears a costume fashionable among high-born ladies in Crete 3,500 years ago. The waist is as waspish as those of Edwardian belles, the eyes painted and the breasts dramatically bare - a symbol of fertility. In her hands she holds a pair of scared snakes.

Chalk statue of Greek priestess from about 600 B.C. shows the customary dress of upper class women, who felt that the bare bosom gave them added grace and did not detract at all from their modesty. It has many characteristics of earlier Egyptian culture, where the bare bosom was also the vogue.

Diane de Poitiers powerful mistress of France's Henry II, lightly veiled her bosom - a style which also prevailed at England's court under Elizabeth.

Hortense Mancini, niece of Cardinal Mazarin, dresses this way at French and English courts. Such semi nudism persisted in France until early 1800s.

Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII of France, was one of a group of royal ladies who set this fashion Fontainebleau in the mid-15th Century.

Lucrezia Borgia, as shown in 1520 painting by Veneziano, appeared at fetes in Venice with one breast exposed and rouged, in the style of the day.

At North Avenue Beach, chicago, Model Toni Lee Shelley, 19, who went swimming in a topless, is whisked away to be booked for indecent exposure.

Factory in San Diego jumps on bandwagon with 'convertible topless swimsuits' which feature a detachable top. Plant has more than 3000 orders.

So there you have it. Rudi was a master and he sure shook up the masses. I just goes to show, history and fashion do repeat themselves.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reactions to Rudi Gernreich Fashions

This blog post continues from our post yesterday on Rudi Gernreich Master of the Topless Swimsuit. Reprinted from Life magazine 1964.

Rudi's topless gown goes on display around the world and the reactions to the displays are very interesting.

Rudi Gernreich dress with a net fill in, has been ordered by Gimbels in New York.

Window shoppers staring at new topless evening gowns on mannequins, react in Hong Kong and London with the same instinctive gesture of modesty.

One middle aged English house wife sighed" I wish I had the figure to wear it." A London architects wife bought one, wore it to a party and heard it's merits and demerits debated loudly all night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rudi Gernreich Master of the Topless Swimsuit

Weekend find!! The only thing I purchased at an estate sale this weekend, but it certainly made my week.

This article titled "Fashion's Best Joke on Itself in Years" by Shana Alexander is reprinted from the July 10, 1964 Life Magazine.

July 10, 1964 Life Magazine

Once backstage at The Folies Bergere I watched a nude English girl eating a tomatoe sandwich. Waiting to be towed out on stage, she perched atop a wagonful papier mache vegetables, balancing a three foot bunch of fake bananas on her head with her free hand. Suddenly her sandwich slipped and splattered down her bare front. "Blasted tomatoes! Help!" she shrieked - but instead of simply handing the poor girl a handkerchief, two dozen hard bitten stagehands froze dead in their tracks. Nudity glimpsed suddenly in an unexpected context - smeared with tomatoes for example - can evidently shock anybody, even a Follies stagehand.

I was reminded of the blasted tomatoe girl recently when the topless bathing suit burst upon the waiting world. But once you get over the shock, which takes about 10 minutes, the new suit begins to strike you as the most absurd garment since these two rascally weavers manufactured the emperor's new cloths. The suit is no good for swimming, because it falls off, and it is no good for sunning because it leaves disastrous strap marks. it is no good for getting your pictures in the papers any more because too many people already tried that, and anyhow the cameraman is likely to turn timid and photograph you from the back. As for the front view of the suit, it proves only that whatever else she may be, a bare breasted woman in broad daylight is highly unnerving.

In his Los Angeles workroom Gernreich works over sketch of swimsuit with half the top erased.

But the topless suit is good for something. It is good for connoisseurs of pop art, for aficionados of the absurd, and especially for a high old fashioned laugh. (One funny thing about toplessness is that it doesn't really have much to do with breasts. Breasts of course are not absurd; topless swimsuits are. lately people keep getting the two things mixed up.) Altogether, toplessness is fashions best joke in years.

The authors of the joke are a pair of high fashion personalities named Rudi Gernreich and Peggy Moffitt, who stand to reap an unexpected $20,000. this year from the gag. The suit was invented not for money or publicity, but for kicks. Rudi Gernreich is a famous California fashion designer who specializes in avant-garde sportswear, and Peggy Moffitt is his special model, an outlandish and adoring Tribly in red eyeshadow and pale make up who is usually seen smoking long, dark-brown Ciggarettellos. Rudi and Peggy proudly call themselves Now People, and their struggle to remain Now People and avoid the hateful obscurity of becoming mere Then People occupies their every waking moment.

1954 - Suits worn by Peggy Moffit show evolution of designs. This suit without inner bra is now a classic.

"Fashion is moving so fast today that by the time you predict something for the future, it's already here, says Rudi, who certainly has reason to know. Last spring he remarked rather casually that if things kept going the way they were within five years women would throw away the tops of their bathing suits altogether. But for the Now Person, thought is action and the designer suddenly found himself slammed against his drawing board in the horrifying realization that, if the topless suit was really almost at hand, his status as a designer demanded that he, Rudi, design it. It was a matter of honor, a gauntlet flung in his own face. "It was my prediction" he says. "For the sake of history I didn't want Pucci to do it first."

1960 - Loosely fitted suit of silk jersey, also made without a bra or inner lining, clung to bosom when wet.

The suit turned out to be a nightmare to design. "I just don't believe in it," Rudi admits now. It's an illogical thing. I really did thin people with beautiful bodies would drop their bikini tops. But just a bikini bottom would be the end of design." Be predicting toplessness he very nearly aced himself out of business. Every sketch turned out to look like trunks or, worse yet, boxer shorts. Finally, in desperation, he added straps to the boxer shorts, "for pure decor," and sent the thing off to the cutters.

1961 - Bikinis became a Gernreich specialty, and over the years he kept making them briefer and briefer.

More problems. The knitwear cutters couldn't figure the unaccustomed proportions. The first mock up came out only navel high. Another bikini bottom! Their second try was too high waisted. But, as in all good fairy tales, the third try was just right. Now who could be found to wear the thing?

1963 - Last year Gernreich cut the sides of the bathing suit away, leaving bosom half bare. It sold fairly well.

Enter Peggy, trailing clouds of Ciggarettello smoke and musing, "Either you do a thing or you don't. Besides, if I don't do it, Suzy Parker might doit first." But Peggy insisted on doing the thing a certain way. She would wear the suit only for her husband, Bill Claxton, to photograph. She would not model it. "Modeling has to do with illusion, and let's face it - this is a pretty realistic suit."

1964 - Last winter Gernreich designed this model, with arms covered and neckline plunging to waist.

The Now People spent hours planning their strategy before taking the suit to New York, along with Rudi's Fall collection. The collection included a transparent shirt, about which Rudi says, "You see the beauty best because the illusion of body is always more exciting that the real thing." In line with this philosophy, Rudi and Peggy planned only to show pictures of the topless suit, never to model it. In fact, they had not the slightest intention of ever manufacturing it. There was just one suit: it was a prediction, not a product.

1964 - And here is the topless suit that started the whole thing. "I really rattled the world" says Rudi.

But by the time Rudi and Peggy hit new York, the topless news was already out. Press and TV were clamoring for interviews, the fashion world was in an uproar, and the knitwear manufacturer was frantic. A few daring stores offered the suits because a few daring customers wanted them. Before you knew it orders had come in for over 1000 suits at $24.00 a piece. He had to manufacture the thing. Now people can not stand in one place. Reluctantly, Rudi gave the command: knit.

We've got the first suit shown in our store at Glamoursurf.

Even as the topless suits are being snapped up across the land, one question lingers: Why buy it? There seems to be two reasons. One ids the fashion feedback effect - fashion conscious women buy it because Rudi Gernreich designed it. The other reason is strictly feminine. If a woman is going to appear naked, she somehow prefers to appear naked in something designed for the purpose, not in half of last years bikini. Her need to buy the topless suit is the last atavistic remnant of the old ensemble urge, the thing that makes her buy the shoes to match the purse to go with the hat that complements the dress.

Today not only Rudi and Peggy have got over the shock of the suit. Other fashion models, once as modest as Peggy, rip off their bras when Rudi enters the dressing room, to prove they're no more prudes that Peggy is. All unwitting, the harried designer finds himself the Bolivar of the bosom. Nowadays, when he steps backstage at a fashion show, he is usually confronted by a forest of bare breasts. "But," he says, "sex is in the person, not in what she puts on."

And he is right. The topless suit isn't lewd, though the attitude with which it is worn may be. Sex isn't what a woman puts on - or what she takes off, either.

More on Rudi Fashions and reactions from East to West coming tomorrow, stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Teaser

Life Magazine, July 10, 1964

What do these two things have in common? Think you know? The answer will be provided tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gilbert Adrian Swimwear

This is from a film I definitely want to see. I do think Netflix is in order, although I'm not a member yet. This is from the 1939 Cukor film "The Women".

What a visual feast this small clip is, the fashion show in color is by Adrian. Such glamour, sophistication and the attention to detail is amazing. Now my favorites, by far, are the over the top swimsuits. Can you imagine, and Adrian swimsuit? Someone pinch me!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Sun Worshipers

There are many forms that sun worshiping takes. We're talking lounging here, just sitting back and enjoying the sun, letting it warm and perhaps tan your body. Total relaxation, sitting at the beach, listening to the calming effect of the waves against the shore, perhaps sipping your favorite mixed concoction.

This set up looks particularly enticing to me. Lot's of space to stretch out, comfy pillows, vivid fabrics, tables and umbrellas. I can picture myself spending a whole day right here.

Perhaps you might feel more cozy laid out in a contraption such as this. Foot rest, pillows, the sun and a bit of privacy.

Well, OK, the phone cracks me up, but replace that today with your cell phone and a deck chair and maybe that's more your style.

Or a simple beach chair and nothing else.

Maybe you bring the family and the whole back yard. BBQ, picnic basket, blankets, toys, umbrellas, beach chairs, and oh yes, the kids.

Or just a few close friends?

Cards anyone?

Yes, well, you won't want to miss the water too. Cool off in between slathering on the sunscreen. Doesn't this look enticing though?

OK, then there's improvisation. Use the surfboard if nothing else will suffice.

Perhaps you don't need any extra blanket or towel to enjoy the beach. But I prefer something as a border between and those little grains of sand.

And I suppose there are those who don't like the beach at all (or don't have the luxury of being near the beach) and prefer lounging in the backyard.

What's your style?