Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Catalina Sweetheart Swimsuits (1948-1955)

Good morning! With school out and the kiddlings swarming the the library on their summer vacations, my thoughts have turned to my OWN vacation, which is soon, soon, soon, and not-soon-enough. One of the key considerations for any short or long distance travel in my book is the packing of the suitcase. I've already decided which, from a wealth of cartoon character and lady-of-refinement alike suitcases, will bear the burden of my souvenir and sartorial choices for a week's time. But then my thoughts turned to swimsuit selection! My suit's serviceable, but I wish to goodness I had some of the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G things I found when I innocently googled "catalina swimsuit" in Google Books. I mean, these are really just too much.

Catalina ran a line of "Sweetheart Suits" from the late forties' to the mid fifties' (and possibly beyond! That's just as far as my research extends), which meant for $12.00 apiece, you and your significant other could hit the beach in outfits that just scream "COMMITMENT". Look at the cute way the ad originally stood in Life magazine, as if the gal was going to through the beach ball through the article to her boyfriend at page right:


I've cut down a few of the ads for your viewing pleasure below to a "just the suits, ma'am" layout:

 A fitting-enough nautical theme continues from shirt-to-short in the mens' version, while the ladies' version of this suit features an adorable bandeau top and matching skirtlet bottom. I CAN'T. GET OVER. HOW THEY MATCH. I always think I'm a little nuts for trying to coordinate the colors in my dress for a family get-together or social engagement with the colors in Matthew's shirt, but this is taking it to the next level! The woman's suit features a hand-painted anchor "on dull satin Lastex", and the gentleman's suit is made of "Celanese Prospector". Whatever that is. Why are all fabrics just called like "latex" or "polyester" when they could be "LASTEX" and... I dunno... "polyBESTer". Build the boast into the name!

Also, isn't it funny how catalog models of the forties', fifties', and sixties' often look just like regular people on the street? I know that's kind of the idea of modeling in the first place, that you see a better version of you wearing that cable knit sweater in just the right color, but I'm always startled by how much vintage catalog people can sometimes look like nondescript extras from a period movie. Also: SWORDFISH. Do you see the tiny boat in the distance reeling the mighty fish in? There's a story here.

White wool cable on Lastex and Celanese....one of the less flashy designs is no less interesting! I love the chevron effect on the man's suit. And how flattering are those lines on the ladies'? The raised design reminds me of a chenille bedspread. 


 How did you know this was my favorite one? I have a weakness for forties' and fifties' lobsters, in spite of a lack of interest in sea-faring themes or even really seafood (excepting cocktail shrimp... between that and martini olives, I could really live on hors d'oeurves without real hardship for the rest of my life). This puts me in mind of Salvador Dali's lobster telephone and my own lobster pin, both of which are fond thoughts. There's a matching towel mentioned in the ad's byline. Matching! Overload!

Look how neat the girl's design is here! In terms of construction! With the bare upper midriff, you get a taste of bikini without full commitment to the two piece look.

 More at-sea scenes....like the swordfish set, the man's shirt is more of a button-up, Havana shirt look.
I lied, I think this one is actually the best. See the baby sharks flitting to and fro on this suit set! The ladies' top design leaves a little to be desired...do you think it looked less like a full-on bra in real life?

The picture that leads this blog post and the one here at the end are both from the mid fifties' sweetheart line, by which time Catalina had ditched the cute-i-tude sea animal patterns for bold fifties' prints. I love the black hair'd girl's bangs and bob, her red lipstick, and her pretty bangles. What a good look! Also, where can I get a ride in the mid century modern rickshaw displayed below? WHERE?


Anyway, I'm bound to sort out which suit I end up taking before I actually depart, but wouldn't the decision be that much easier if I had Catalina on my side with a shark/lobster suit!

What's your beach wear look like this year? Which of these suits would YOU take out for a spin? Do you and your significant other have any matching outfits, swimwear or otherwise? Would you, could you bite the bullet and be seen with your misses or mister in a matching pair of bathing suits? These are the questions I'd like answered! :)

Have a great Tuesday and I'll see you guys tomorrow!


  1. i'm dying! that matching! travis would totally be down for that. I think the swordfish set is my favorite...the lobster is pretty incredible too...i have the worst bathing suit! i had been looking for one for so long one day, i just bought the first one that fit ok. i hate it! i need to get a cute vintage inspired one.

  2. Sooooo awesome! I'm ready to revive all if those beautiful graphics! My brother is a screen printer and I have a feeling that I am going to keep him very busy with lobsters and flying fish!!!



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