Two summers ago, I was at a pool party in Southampton, New York when I spotted a girl wearing the coolest dress/swimsuit hybrid I had ever seen. I didn't know her, but that didn't matter. I had to find out where it was from. "Vintage," she smiled. "I bought it at this great secondhand store downtown."
Clearly, this experience stuck with me -- I have been envious of this model's vintage bathing suit for years -- but, I haven't given in to purchasing one.
Even though I love vintage shopping, there are some pieces at which I draw the line. Lingerie, swimsuits, socks, pantyhose and slips are all off-limits for me when it comes to secondhand shopping. These items are too intimate for me to share with another unknown person. I prefer to buy clothing that is less close to the body, like dresses, blouses, skirts and pants.
When I think about it logically, though, I realize that this is a somewhat arbitrary distinction. A tank top and a bra touch the body in the same way, right? And you can never really tell where someone's pants may have been. David Sedaris' experience about getting crabs from a pair of secondhand pants comes to mind when I think about my concerns. I distinctly remember reading his New Yorker piece, "It's Catching," while wearing a recently-purchased pair of vintage jeans. I wanted to jump out of my skin with disgust.
It seems that designers know that the flattering fit of a '50s-inspired bikini is desirable, and that most are unwilling to wear the original pieces, even if they can find them. So, while I always admire the antique lace slips my friends find at flea markets and the swimsuits I see others wearing, for now I think I will stick with retro-inspired pieces, like the ones in our gallery below.