Nothing new has happened to swimwear for many summers. Colours and fabrics mark the fashion changes. The shapes stay the same. For a swimsuit is a swimsuit is a swimsuit- be it a one piece, a two piece, a half piece. And the shops are full of them. Lovely little things in super prints and colours. And that`s where the problems begin. They are little, very little indeed. Bikinis especially have got skimpier with every passing permissive year. A year ago a generously endowed size 12 could fit quite neatly into a size 12 swimsuit; today she has to squeeze herself into it and hope that all will stay put when in use. That is to say, if she can get into it at all. And to find a larger size is nigh impossible. The shops have either sold out already or else the buyer never stocked them, since, alas, the majority of today’s fashion- conscious ladies slim themselves down to the smaller sizes. Then there are the others- ‘them’, the unspeakable, unwearable, unsightly “them`, made by the British swimwear manufacturers especially for the fuller figure. And just one look at them is enough to put the fattiest, with good taste, off swimming and beaches for ever. The shapes are okay, for a swimsuit is a swimsuit is a swimsuit, but why couldn”t the manufacturers leave the voluptuous out of the swirls and violets and stretch-nylon crunchy fabrics? Why can`t they just make large swimsuits in plain and simple colours, stripes, dots and nice flower patterns? Meanwhile, until they all realise that the fuller figures sometimes have very good fashionable taste, all that`s left- apart from eating less — is to search among the rails of tiny inviting little bikinis and swimsuits in the hope of finding one that will do up.
Some things never change. I feel like we’re still having the same conversations about clothes now, and wistfully remembering a non-existent time when everyone was catered for and everything was of the highest quality. Still, of the highest quality are these extraordinary illustrations which, frankly, deserve to be framed and hung on a gallery wall…
By Caroline Baker. Drawings by Celestino Valenti.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Nova, July 1972