Catalina Contures, 1960s Key to Confidence in Swimwear Comfort

Here’s one to be filed under “Things I found while looking for something else.” I could also put it under, “Things I didn’t know existed.”

Not that I didn’t know about “falsies” or bust pads; I just didn’t know that Catalina made these for swimsuits back in the 1960s. And considering how much time I spent  between 1965 and 1972 devouring Seventeen and Teen magazines, You’d think I’d have known every product that was marketed to my demographic (otherwise known as the teenager).

I have a fairly decent selection of Seventeen and other fashion magazines from the 60s, so after I found this item, I decided to revisit the magazines to see if I could spot an ad for Contures. I was pretty sure that I’d come up empty, as I felt sure I would have remembered seeing this product, and especially if the mermaid packaging was featured in the ads. And I was right, there were no Contures ads to be found.

From reading many online ads for vintage Catalina bathing suits, it does appear that many of their styles were made with pockets in which to insert the pads. I’m still trying to figure out how that would lead to “confidence in swimwear comfort”.

Looking at this product and the language used to sell it, it’s no wonder so many young women developed (and unfortunately still develop) body image issues. I do hope that all of you who have girls and teens are teaching them that their bodies are not objects that need correcting. Well, unless they have scoliosis or some other medical condition.

It’s really quite remarkable that these have survived at all, much less in the original box in a plastic bag. It’s obvious they were never used. Maybe the buyer had a moment of clarity and decided her breasts were fine as is. I like to think that’s the case.

The condition of the pads is amazing. They look like new, which is surprising considering they are made from a spongy synthetic substance and were wrapped in a plastic bag for fifty years. I have re-homed them in a muslin pouch, after wrapping them in acid-free tissue. Maybe that will help them last another fifty years.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Summer Sports

15 responses to “Catalina Contures, 1960s Key to Confidence in Swimwear Comfort

  1. Dustbunnie

    I hope one day you will consider showing your collection! Great find on the enhancers, I’m around your age and don’t remember seeing them. I do however remember the pink Mark Eden bust exerciser that I used faithfully without the promised results. 😊


  2. I too should have been aware of these enhancements! I graduated from high school in Southern California in 1961 and there were lots of swim suits sold (I lived close to orange county beaches). But no, they are entirely new to me. I do remember that many of the swimsuits had some sort of built in padding or boning. I remember most swimsuits being one piece until about 1960, when I bought my first two piece suit. Well, not exactly, I shoplifted it. But that’s another story and I am reformed.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jacq staubs

    I know many of the swimwear designers / manufacturers added padding for they claimed support. Remember the 50’s movie stars all had exaggerated breasts. The “sweater girls ? Liz Taylor and even Barbara Stanwick . Also the evening and cocktail dresses had “uplift” panels. Full bosoms were I guess in fashion. I know a gown of my mothers has “staves” – like a collar staves. Used to tease my sister about using socks! Bad boy!


  4. Amanda

    Never heard of these contours for swimsuits. I remember in the late 50s my swimsuits’ chests were shaped with what could be called staves. So it looked like you had this lovely upright chest, when in fact there was very little )in my case) filling the cups other than air.


  5. I loved the promise that they would not absorb water! Imagine jumping into the pool and then coming out with much larger “breasts.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marc

    Possibly, these were a godsend for a lady who had breast cancer surgery..


  7. I remember swimsuits that had a layer of foam in the bra ups — very much like the “T-shirt” bras today. Maybe this was only a problem for large-cupped women: When you reclined on the beach, and your breasts naturally changed position, the wet, partially empty cup would get a dent in the center — very odd looking. I suppose if you were an A-cup wearing a B-cup swimsuit (there were no options) the same thing happened — unless you had a pair of “contures” in there.


  8. I remember my mother being very concerned that my nipples might show through my 1972 Catalina two piece bathing suit that did not have cups. I was 13 and did not have breasts you’d notice, thus my lack of concern. Also, 1972. I think she snuck some in, and I’m pretty sure I took them out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.