Beach Party Swimsuit, 1970

I really wonder sometimes where certain clothing styles and fads originate.  An example might be this bathing suit from around 1970.

This style showed up at my local swimming pool the summer I was fifteen.  I wanted no part of it, but there were girls who if they saw a style in Seventeen, then it had to be great, so there they were.  I thought we were there to show off in front of the boys, so why put an apron on to cover up?  Besides, the style was more than a little reminiscent of maternity smocks, and that was a seed of doubt no girl wanted to plant.

Anyway, the fashion came and went, by the next summer bikinis were smaller than ever, but it was still possible to buy or make the silly apron suit.

I spotted this suit from Beach Party at an antique mall in Burlington, NC several weeks ago.  At first I just snapped a photo of it as a reminder that I was never a fashion sheep, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted it.   It appears to be unworn, and in an old fashioned sort of way, was quite attractive.

I love the mix of prints and the red, white, and blue color scheme.  The gingham is right in keeping with the granny chic look that was so popular in the post-Woodstock world.

Little dotty pants.

The back view almost looks like the girls is wearing just a skirt.    Maybe this suit is a bit sexier than I thought.

And there is zero support on the top side, a big change from the highly structured suits teen girls and women were accustomed to.

This Bobbie Brooks ad is from 1970 and shows a similar style.  I think I was right to say no to this fad.


Filed under Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

14 responses to “Beach Party Swimsuit, 1970

  1. I wonder if this wasn’t a reaction against the teeny-weeny bikinis of the day? I see a lot of that “modest / old fashioned” looking articles from back then. The pendulum swinging back and forth I guess.

    Speaking of bathing suits, I got some fun shots from the California Design Exhibit in Salem MA this weekend, will email you them soon!

    Mod B

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I stand alone….but I think the “apron” style suit is adorable. I love the big check with small check, the red, navy and even the Beach Party Label. I also love the beach picture of the teens at the beach. My only complaint is that you would have to be pretty flat chested to wear it as designed.
    As I see it…The swim suit pendulum has never swung back and forth….just forth is how I see it swinging. There is not much forth left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like this style too – the open back really makes it! The last photo of the women wearing these types of suits are kind of silly though – they look too much like lingerie!


  3. monsoonfamily



  4. I really liked the story behind this that you shared! It really adds a lot of credit to some of the fashions of the time. Like you though, I don’t think I would understand the desire to wear such a swimsuit either. It’s kind of a cute hillbilly chic tho…


  5. I’m not so sure how one would swim in it, but maybe that’s wasn’t the point of it! Doesn’t it look so, so innocent, especially now?


  6. at all! I think because of the fabric and the length it is what used to be refered to as a playsuit- not really to swim in…to sun in-a cover up to go to the beach in..or quick trip to the boardwalk-as i remember the girls did not go without a cover on the boardwalk!! -for obviously young respectable girl/young lady-on the Eastern Seaboard in the 60’s-you never saw anything moe daring than a 2piece- unless perhaps Mom and Dad were out of town!!-and then it all changedsame generation grew up-what fun!!!!!!!


  7. Beth Pfaff

    We called them “swim dresses” back in the day. I had a yellow one (late 60’s-early 70’s). The apron part detached from the bikini top so it could be removed. I think it was attached by a narrow band of a velcro like material. The suit was not very comfortable to wear in the water–the apron part got very heavy when wet and sometimes pulled loose from the top. The fabric was cotton–wish I could remember the brand name of the suit and where I purchased it in Greensboro.


  8. I have no memory of this fad at all–but by 1970 I was out of high school. I’m with you, Lizzie. One to skip!


  9. Love the mix of colours and fabrics – so fun! x


  10. I certainly understand a desire to cover up a bit more, but something about those ruffly versions gives a slightly queasy infantalized-sexuality vibe. Wait, I know what it is. It doesn’t look like a teen wearing a more generous bathing suit, it looks like a teen squeezed into (or about to be squeezed out of) a little girl’s dress.


  11. My Mum bought my older sister and I one of these suits each in 1976 or ’77, when I was eight and she was about 15. I was thrilled at getting something new (four older sisters = hand-me-downs), mine was bright purple with multi-coloured spots. My sister was MORTIFIED. She would have no part of what she considered a hideous cover-up, so she promptly hacked the skirt off and flaunted her amazing figure in the pants and a now-extremely skimpy bikini top. The boys at the beach went nuts.


  12. Pingback: Updates – The Rest of the Story | The Vintage Traveler

  13. Pingback: The Colors of Summer: Red, White, and Blue | The Vintage Traveler

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