Once Upon a Time –  Vintage Gold Swimsuit

Today we had a real treat in the Swim Masters Class. One of my students brought in a vintage gold swimsuit for us to see and examine. Little did she know, that peering into vintage apparel is a passion of mine! Here is the suit, and it is lovely!

Look at the trim on the halter! Back in the day, we used to call these “rhinestones”, but now we call them crystals. Even though it is many decades old, the trim is still impressive. There is even small crystal aglets on the ends of the straps.

The suit is fully lined, back and front, which is unusual in itself, but there is also a bra inside. The strapless bra inside is lace (can you believe that?) with boning on the horizontal and vertical seams.

You can see the label “Cole of California Original” on the bra

If you pull down the front halter section, there is another layer of the glittery fabric underneath, which is the cover for the bra (really unnecessary but obviously the kind of detail that was warranted in a suit of this caliber). Notice the darts that provide the shaping over the bra.

The suit is NOT Lycra or spandex but nylon (I am going to venture a guess and say it could be Lurex and nylon blend as it is very glittery and sparkly, but not smooth like spandex would be) Since there is no spandex, the back had to be fastened with a zipper!  A metal zipper and a modesty panel behind the zip with a dome fastener for extra insurance against zipper slide downs.

The legs are finished off as what we would now call the boy short legs, but back in the day, that was the standard leg opening.

If anyone has an opinion about the date of this suit, I would love to hear from you! This suit has definitely brought some sparkle to my swimsuit day. Thank you so much to my students for bringing in these lovely things to show me!

5 replies
  1. cindylonnstrom
    cindylonnstrom says:

    So cute! I’m curious about the caption under the 1st photo: “we used to call these “rhinestones”, but now we call them crystals”.
    They appear to be rhinestones … also known as fake diamonds. When I think of crystals, I think of beads such as bicone beads. I’m conducting some research on a 1960s evening dress I’d like to re-create and some publications say the dress had handstitched rhinestones and others say the embellishments are crystals. Thank you for the clarification.

  2. bbaraka10
    bbaraka10 says:

    Here’s a vintage 1956 Cole suit with the same lines, but “Egyptian” fabric.

    And here’s the same design but in silver, listed as “60s” era

    The 50s one says the fabric is lamé (if it felt somewhat thin and metallic), and the 60s is Lurex, which has some synthetic and a bit of stretch but not much. Feels thin but a little slicker than lamé.


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