Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

When it’s too hot for pants… how about a vintage swimsuit?

OK, it’s March 20th. The first day of SPRING, not summer. You’d never know it though by the record-breaking temperature (25 C), hot sunshine, and all the bikers, walkers, runners, in-line skaters, and sunbathers clad in their Lululemon tank tops and shorts (the girls, at least) along the canal. I half expect to hear the Pavlovian carillon of a Dickie Dee ice cream pushcart coming around the corner like the Pied Piper, with rapacious children and their parents streaming into the streets to purchase one of his/her frozen delectables.  And yet, look out at the water – or ice – and you can still see a thin but determined glacial layer clinging across most of the canal, stubbornly refusing to recede and concede that spring (or maybe summer) really has sprung… I don’t know what’s going on with our climate these days, but I’m starting to wonder if some Big Bang like atmospheric physicist decided to play a little premature April Fool’s Day joke on us by simulating what life would be like living next to the equator instead of north of the 49th parallel…

Speaking of summer, sunshine, heat, and brightness, I decided to dig out my Crayola markers and contemplate a summer-inspired drawing. I’ve always loved working with Crayolas – especially on glossy paper. The markers are easy to manipulate and they just glide so effortlessly across the page. And, the effect of blending colors is almost like what you would get with water-based paint, except with more control (and what girl doesn’t want more control?? ;-)) since this is a pen not a brush…

When I was an undergrad living in residence on campus, I remember taping up poster-sized sheets of no-longer-needed, glossy advertisements on my limited wall space (i.e., my makeshift canvas) that I would recycle from my dad’s retail business. The white, unused reverse side of the poster paper was perfect for doing marker-based artwork. One of my favourite, most ambitious glossy paper-Crayola art projects back in the day was re-creating the Disney movie poster for Beauty & the Beast. (I even made it a “mixed-media” project by tossing all kinds of gold glitter – using glue, which amped up the mess factor exponentially.) I would happily get lost for hours at a time working on this tableau. Sadly, I gave this “masterpiece” away to a friend – ok, a very hot guy, who also happened to like my art and whom I had a huge crush on. (Hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern in my life here…) We would play one-on-one basketball – shirts and skins. I know, gratuitous. But, he had a great upper body. Wow, does that sound sexist to say! Anyway, I would usually win our games. :-)) Who knows whether he still has this unique piece of knock-off Disney art or whether he threw it out long ago… In any event, I haven’t done much sketching with Crayolas since my undergrad days for some unknown reason (maybe I thought I had to graduate to more serious Manga markers or something), so I’d forgotten how much fun — and how messy drawing/coloring with Crayolas can be! (Which is probably exactly why little kids love these markers so much!..)

Anyway, I thought it’d be cool to temporarily abandon my India ink (sigh), and try and create a vintage travel poster using Crayolas and one of the many great fashion photos from Style Book. I settled on a picture shot in 1961, poolside in Athens, Greece of a young woman in a white boned bathing suit (you know, the kind you used to see old ladies wear far less elegantly à la cover of the Northern Pikes’ album, Snow in June). Of course, I was also drawn to the over-the-top flower-power bathing cap! Is that not totally awesome or what?? Not that I’d personally have the guts to wear that kind of headpiece to my decidedly serious (and fairly competitive) community pool. No, these days it’s nothing but the standard-issue latex Speedo bathing caps (although the bright yellow ones are nice), which hardly fit my head (yes, I am one of these people with an oversized, but non-hydrocephalic, noggin – thanks, Dad and the rest of your side of the family!?) That said, I do recall proudly sporting a white, textured vinyl bathing cap with a trademark pink rose corsage-like appliqué on the side. This was the 80s. I wasn’t exactly the coolest kid in the pool either, or the best swimmer, but hell, I was determined to make a fashion statement from my drugstore-bought little piece of prêt-à-porter cruise wear!..

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5 thoughts on “When it’s too hot for pants… how about a vintage swimsuit?

  1. Wow, love this! Also, love vintage swimsuits. So stylin’. I wish I could look inside that style book you linked to. I’m kind of interested in buying it, but I want to see the pages…

    • Thanks for the feedback. Yes, the book is great – very strong on image vs words, and agree – too bad it’s not perusable on-line. If you like fashion, history, and photography (esp portraiture; good mix of B&W and color), though, I don’t think you’d be disappointed. The book is not too large or heavy either: hard-cover, handbook size. Reasonably priced. I decided it was a must-have when I kept thinking about it and having to “visit” it in Chapters.

  2. Good read nice pop art. Good day Nonoy Manga

  3. Simpson on said:

    Great drawing!

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