Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vintage Beach - The 1960s

In an interview with BBC News in 2006, French fashion historian Olivier Saillard explained, "The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women."

This statement makes a lot of sense to me. In past vintage postings we've seen what was proper for women to wear to the beach in the 1800s — dresses made of wool jersey that came below the knee, along with stockings, swimcaps and even shoes. So, today I give praise to the brave women who shed those heavy outer garments and let their bodies become one with the beach!

The bikini made it's first modern day appearance on the beaches of France in 1946 and hit the big screen in Manina, la fille sans voile (Manina, the Girl in the Bikini) in 1952, starring Brigitte Bardot. The film was not released in the United States until 1958, but was followed by Ursula Andress starring in Dr. No (1962) and Raquel Welch in One Million Years, B.C. (1966). These were the stars of that era, definitely sexy and definitely wearing bikinis my father would not have approved for my beachwear.

Brigitte Bardot at age 18
Manina, the Girl in the Bikini (1952)

Ursula Andress
Dr. No (1962)

Raquel Welch
One Million Years, B.C. (1966)

Sports Illustrated has been doing their swimsuit edition for many years as these past covers indicate. The collage photos from left to right, top to bottom are from 1964–1967 and the larger one is from 1969. Now you know this magazine gives a good idea of what the men were ogling during that time period.

As most of you know, I grew up on the beaches of Southern California.

Here's me and my dad enjoying ourselves in 1954.

Me and my cousin Jackie in 1958

This photo was taken of us just two years before the song She Wore An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini hit the charts with a bullet in the summer of 1960. I knew every word to this song and sang it to anyone who was willing to listen.

Haven't heard this before? Well, surprise, surprise, YouTube has a video. What's fun about this video is that the visual is of an old 45 rpm playing on a record player and if you don't know what I'm talking about, this was WAY before your time.

We had a modest home in the San Fernando Valley, so that we could also have a weekend/summer getaway at Paradise Cove in Malibu. The Cove was strictly a trailer park at that time and our neighbors included Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Edgar Buchanan and Frank Cady (both of Petticoat Junction) and many friends. We bought our trailer from Lana Turner, better known as the Sweater Girl in those days. By the time we located to The Cove, we were already known as The Lazy G's from our many years of beach camping.

My Beachy Family in 1964

The Beach at Paradise Cove

This where I spent every moment I possibly could. I turned 13-years-old in 1964, and I was living the California Dream in Malibu. My boyfriend a was blond-haired, blue-eyed, surfer boy named Steve Ragusin. He tried to teach me to surf, but all I managed to do was fall really well. I spent one summer on the beach working out of a tiki hut, renting surfboards and selling suntan lotion and snow cones. Yes, my tiki hut days began a long time ago.

As I stated earlier, my daddy would never have let me wear the suits sported by Brigitte, Ursula and Raquel, so who do you think I tried to emulate in the 60s?

Why Annette Funicello of course!

The Cove was a popular spot for the studios to film movies and television shows. The beach would be closed to the public, but hey, we were not the public. One of the movies that was filmed there was How To Stuff A Wild Bikini, starring none other than Annette Funicello!
Annette was the All-American, Girl-Next-Door and I grew up on her movies, so you know we were all thrilled when they ask all the kids who lived at The Cove to be part of a crowd scene at the beach. We were not paid for this and I have never been able to spot myself in the crowd, but hey, I was there and to this day (even if I ended up on the cutting room floor) I can say that I was a part of that movie. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Have you seen these movies? If not, click here to reach my post where I have archived my Hulu widget and watch full-length versions of this one and others. Not into watching movies on your computer? Well, while researching this post I found out there is a DVD set with eight of her movies available on Amazon: Frankie & Annette MGM Movie Legends Collection for only $22.99.

I'm putting this on my Christmas Wishlist; I think it would be great to have these playing on the big screen during a beach party at The Hut.

When I was growing up many mother's sewed clothes for their families and because of that I find that vintage patterns show what most "real" women were wearing at the time, so here are a number of them from the 1960s:

Vogue 6468 -1960s
Bathing Suit and Cover-Ups.
Two sheer cover-ups... Version A has elastic at lower
edges of full sleeves and hem line; self bow trim on sleeves.
Version B hangs straight with lace band trim at hem line
and at loose sleeve edges. High round neckline ties in
self bow at center back. Drawstring detail at top
of bra and briefs. Bra fastens at center back.

Vogue 5021 - 1960
Very short pants join the fitted top at waistline.
Simulated buttoned front closing below V-neckline.
Zipper back closing.
Skirt in two lengths with side front and side back
released pleats has buttoned front closing.

Vogue 5473 - Bathing Suit and Shirt
Bra with shoe-string ties has buttoned back closing.
Brief panties are shaped at front waist-line.
Straight shirt with or without attached, fitted hood.
Optional patch pockets with flap.
Rolled up sleeves joined to dropped shoulder armhole.
Featured in Vogue Pattern Book December 1962/January 1963
and Vogue Pattern Book June/July 1963

McCalls 6861-1963

McCall's Bathing Suit Pattern with Side Openings (1965)

Simplicity 8251 - 1969

Another way to see what was popular beach attire is by taking a look at old advertisements. So, just who was using swimsuits to promote their products:

The following is a page from the Saturday Evening Post, April 1959 that is an illustration for a short story. Doesn't the fellow in this bear a striking resemblance to actor Cary Grant?

Well, that's it for this week, I hope you enjoyed a look back on the beach fashions of the 1960s. That was my era and I loved it! Again, I want to thank all those women who came before us and challenged the way we dressed for a day at the beach, you are my heros!

I've linked this post to my two favorite Wednesday events — Outdoor Wednesday hosted by the lovely Susan at A Southern Daydreamer and Waterside Wednesday hosted by the talented Barbara @ The Book Blog. Be sure to stop by and click on links to more fabulous Wednesday posts! Trust me, you'll love it!

And remember, Wednesday is also the last day to enter Maya's Giveaway @ Completely Coastal. Click on her link or on her button in my sidebar.

27 Thoughtful Comments:

Unknown said...

What a great posting, Rhonda! I, too, was a huge fan of Annette's. I was somewhat older than you during that era and did wear bikinis, although compared to today's bikinis those were pretty tame. I remember several of those patterns, too, because I used to sew my own clothes. Thanks for that fun look back.


Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

Oh, all these perfect beach body's! Your family shots are so great..., I'll be back later to read it all.

Unknown said...

What a great post!!Maybe we could call you Gidget?

Kat said...

What a fun post! I love those vintage patterns. Paradise Cove looks like an absolutely gorgeous beach - Paradise indeed. What great memories you must have. I love the family photo. Thanks for stopping by and the good wishes for Cait. I am surrounded by musicians, which makes vacations alot of fun. Glad you liked the Austin skyline shot, it's my favorite too. Hope you have a great week. Kathy

Drawn to The Sea said...

Oh those were the days, weren't they? What a cool childhood you had, so many fun memories. Those old beach movies are perfect to lift the spirits on a chilly day. And Ursula... mercy, what a woman.

A truly enjoyable post, from first word to the very last.


Regina said...

Beautiful post!

Roberta said...

Such a wonderful post! You brought me back to those early bikini days as a teen. I wish I had my first white crochet one to frame!!
great pics. love the Lazy G's! What a life! I'll have to dig up some beach photos from back in the day. thanks! Roberta

Anonymous said...

Oh Rhonda, even though I grew up in Canada, we are of the same era. I had an itsy bitsy yellow bikini, with no polka dots, but I loved that song. It was the beginning of my teen years, and I watched every California beach movie that came out. I loved Annette and Frankie, Elvis in Blue Hawaii, and the original Sandra Dee Gidget and her Moon Doggy. Do you remember the movie "A Summer Place"?

Thanks for these great memories! I loved the story of your family.


Drawn to The Sea said...

I LOVE the idea you just posted on my "rock" post... a most excellent idea! What a nice human you are.

Wishing you a happy day!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Rhonda, this was the post of the day. The time, effort and thought that went into its creation amazes me. I'll very selfishly say I glad you spent that time, because I loved every frame of it. I hope you are having a wonderful day. I heard the surf's up :-).

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

I grew up in the same era. I enjoyed your post. I even made my own 2 piece bathing suit back then.

My own observations are on the evolution of undergarments. I think that defines the generations. I have only this year given up on pantyhose. I can remember being shocked when my daughters didn't put undershirts on their babies. lol

Claudia said...

What a blast from the past!! So enjoyable.

I know that with the Boomers rockin so much of the economy i cant help but wonder why "they" dont ever return to wonderful light hearted movies again... I think there sure would be an audience... you and me to count 2 hahhah!

Thanks sooo for brightening my day.

If you get a chance i would love you to stop by my spot in the blogosphere.

TTFN~~Claudia ♥ ♥

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

This is such a great post..., for some reason I could just sort of feel how it must have been to be at the Malibu beach at the time. Me, I guess I was just born late enough (1961) that my parents didn't object to anything that I was "not wearing" at the pool or the beach. After all we used to go camping in South France in the 70's every summer and all the women were bathing topless (and still am).

Ebie said...

Rhonda, thanks for this post. It is good to reminisce all the fun days here in SoCal, especially in the beaches. We were in Paradise Cove, Point Dume two weeks ago. And on a sad note, with the fires in the Palos Verdes and the Valley and Riverside, all 4 or 5 of them at the same time, the skies are still grey even as I speak looking at my office window facing the 110 Harbor Freeway and Staples Center and Convention Center. I am very sad about the fate and aftermath of this calamity. No blogging for me this week. Last Saturday I took a photo standing across from Pierce on Cahuenga and Victory facing the San Gabriel Mountains, the smoke was so thick it looked like a bomb explosion. At mid noon the heat sky rocketed to 105 near the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. My park and ride station at Universal City by the Studios has droplets of ashes. Those poor animals and the houses, and I know a few bloggers who lost their cabins. It is very sad for us. I am just glad no Sta Anas this time.

penny said...

A blast from the past. That's a really cool post, I enjoyed all the old photos...
Thanks for stopping by :D

sealaura said...

amazing post! love it all, especially your family photos, thanks for sharing. i'll be back to take it all in because this post is so gorgeous!

CrazyCris said...

Hmmm... personally I don't like to think too much about the pre-bikini days... how uncomfortable! I don't think I've worn a full suit to the beach since... back when I was a shy pre-teen? :p

That beach does look like a gorgeous place to spend youthful summers! :o)

Miller Racing Family said...

What a great post. I must say how times have changed. It was a great flash back.
I love the photos of you and your family, those are very precious.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today and have a great OW!

Miss Footloose said...

Hello Shellbelle,

That was a lot of fun! I remember the days. I think we did very well with our bikinis in those days and that was half a century ago, good grief, it doesn't look that old-fashioned, does it? Think of another 50 years ago, and see the difference!

Actually, now that I think of it, I came to the US in the 60s, to Oregon, for a year as a foreign student in HS and was told NOT to bring a bikini because the Americans were conservative and it would be considered too risque. So I went and bought a one-piece, wondering what I had gotten myself into!

Also, I could not wear pants to school, which I didn't know. I ended up with almost no clothes to wear because mostly I had pants, which I always wore to school in Holland (biking back and forth, so much more convenient!)

Well, I had worse culture shock moments in my future ....

Thank you for stopping by at my blog, and I certainly enjoyed visiting yours, as you can tell ;)

Miss Footloose
Tales of the Globetrotting Life

Cass @ That Old House said...

What a fun post! I know ALL the words to "Itsy Bitsy Teeny ...." and I adored Annette from her Mouseketeer Days!

Great fun... Cass

Barbara Jacksier said...

I also knew all the words to Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and actuallly had a skimpy white one with tiny blue flocked dots.

I can't imagine that my dad approved but they let me wear it all summer long to Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

I recall looking pretty good back then (or at least the boys seemed to think so), so I'm on a quest to find some old photos of me in that suit.

Signing Out said...

What a fun post! I love looking at the styles from the 60's ... maybe because I remember those days! Great photo of your beachy family in 1964!


Julie@beingRUBY said...

OH My goodness
So many things I enjoyed in this post [it is in want of another read]. Even all the way over here in Australia I can relate to much of this. Yes I sang the itsy bitsy song [still do.. hehe] and watched the movies and Tv shows. Of course we didn't have a trailer at the beach [in fact didn't go to the beach much as a kid] but we did relate to many things associated with the beach. The thing that nearly knocked me over was the sewing patterns. You often see these wandering around on blogs but some of the ones you have here i am sure are exactly the ones my mother had and made for my sister and I.ie the Shorts/skirt number and the last simplicity.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I came to say thanks for you lovely comments but got preoccupied with this great post.

I might link my post to waterside wednesday also! Have fun xxx Julie

Puna said...

What a nice place you have. I'm here from Completely Coastal.

Alison Gibbs said...

What a fun post and it brings back so many summer memories

❀~Myrna~❀ said...

I love your vintage beach post. I watched those beach movies when I was young,I loved Frankie & Annette. Thanks for the memories.

sealaura said...

oh my goodness!! I absolutely LOVE the pictures of you and your family, those are priceless and it seems like you might have been the real Gidget! I love this era you described and how wonderful that you indeed were part of it. ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS POST I am off to tweet it right now!

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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