How to make 1930’s bathing suit, DIY, old Hollywood glamour
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Inspiration: Anita Page
I'm not trying to create an exact replica of this costume. I do this costume interpretation for my own interest:)
About Anita Page
First of all, I looked for a costume which I like to recreate. Something not too difficult, but still interesting. And these kinds of black and white, not the highest quality pictures leaves enough space for imagination. Now, I am pleasantly surprised that This girl who wore it has these strange and bit fun stories going on.
Anita Page, (Anita Pomares), American film actress briefly shone as one of Hollywood’s top stars during the transition from silent films to talkies, starting with a role as a doomed jazz baby in the 1928 silent picture Our Dancing Daughters. After a 60-year retirement that began in the mid-1930s, Page appeared in several low-budget horror movies.
The love stories get the most of attention. It happened also with Anita Page. She specialized in playing amoral, hard-drinking floozies. That, combined with her looks, brought her a string of male admirers. I found this really interesting article, which I link below, about the love letters for Anita, from Mussolini!
I thought it surely should be satin-like fabric. I hoped to find something, more suitable for the bodysuit than satin. I would love that the fabric would have some shine in it like in the original costume.
I found beautiful dusty rose velvet-neoprene. I like it because it's stretchy, comfortable, quite thick and not see-through. For this kind of fabric, the linen isn't necessary, so it's the only bodysuit without the linen.
I would like to make a bit looser on the bottom part, not so fitted as the previous models that I’ve done, just to make it a bit interesting to sew and to wear. I think it would be a not far stretch interpretation of this costume because in the first photo it looks that this suit has a bit free space in the tight and arm cycle area. I got rid of the center seam on the panties part. It didn't look nice with the decor.
I made the pattern with the oval neckline. The leg cut is really low, almost as the length of a short would be. I wore a similar cut jumpsuit last summer and it was really comfortable.
Going into the 1940s, the emphasis on the open back was wavering in favor of more bust. Necklines were lowered to just a hint of cleavage with the V-neck being the most helpful in this regard.
If I see this correctly, there is some black lace, and also quite big glass beads, Am I correct? Maybe there also are black lace details are on the ties, or it's just a lot of beading?
Anyway, I'm planning to use it all: lace, beads, and handmade epoxy flower decor. I will use an already made mold with the daisies. It’s the new mold for me, I never try it before. It will be interesting how it will come out. I choose this daisies decor because it had similar but still different typer of flowers, I also loved that all flowers are in different sizes. It varies from 1,5- 4 cm in wide.
All this decor will be made from epoxy resin. It will have fixed thick treads, that I could sew on this decor on to the bathing suit. I dyed mine resign decor in deep black color. I fixed small unevenness with a graver machine. I started to use this tool when I was learning the jewelry art, and it was really helpful for various projects ever since. I will spray a few times these details with lacquer to give some shining to these details. It’s a bit messy process and it takes a few days to make everything. It is necessary to wait for the resign and lacquer to dry.
Then, I repeated the process because I need more than one of every flower, and I only had one mold.
I also added lace details to this decoration. I think It adds more depth feeling to this decor. I used lace leftovers from some other project.
I also used 2-4mm beads to fill some empty spaces.
First of all, I sew on the lace, epoxy resin decor and beads to the front detail.
Then I sewed all details together with an overlock stitch. Then I finished decorating the side seams of this maillot with laces.
I sew an invisible zipper into the back seam. I finished the edges of this leotard with the simple sewing machine. This neoprene fabric was thick enough that the simple stitch seam won't break apart.
Anita and her love letters
"Between movies, I signed fan mail," she said. "Or I modeled, or went on publicity tours. I received so much fan mail." To cope with it, she hired help in the form of her mother, Helen Pomares.
But Anita would still open some of her own mail. She recalls finding the first letter from Mussolini in mid-1929. "I was so excited. I was so thrilled, to open this beautiful adoring letter," she said. A second followed, which was opened by her secretary. Recognizing the handwriting, Anita opened a third.
In one week, Page found eight letters from Mussolini. Where other fans just asked for an autograph, Page says Mussolini's missives were more obsessive, more those of a connoisseur. As well as detailing every move she made in the film, he enclosed pictures of himself and begged her for a signed portrait in return. Anita said TO reporter who captured this story: "Oh, honey, his letters were so gooey, so sweet and actually so touching. He obviously loved what he saw on the screen - me."
She never met Mussolini," she says, "though I sure would have liked to. Honey, I'm not saying that I'd have married him." She says he asked her twice. "My father never liked the whole business. When my brother said he was frightened in case Mussolini came over and kidnapped me, father reassured us that Mussolini wouldn't get as far as Beverly Hills before being noticed.
"Mussolini may have liked me and I know I was really pleased with all the attention but really I think he was a bit of a pig. After all, his people were not allowed freedom. People should be able to speak their minds. If he wrote to me today I would tell him that people should see films, going to see a film opens your mind and gets you thinking. They give you inspiration. I hope I entertained and inspired someone."
You can find this story written by Austin Mutti-Mews In this article: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/nov/03/culture.features
I really like this fabric and maybe in will use it again for some other project. It's completely non-see trough, and in this way, it didn't require linen or bra cups, at least for this design.
I didn't put any decor on the back. I can't sew on handmade epoxy resin decor or beads, because it would make it not comfortable to sit.
I'm happy with the final result. It was, I think, the quickest project which I did for this blog. Simple and elegant design, original decor, and quite comfortable! What could You need more:)
There are a few photos of Anita in the elderly age, and she still looked quite fancy. She still wears her old clothes even in the elderly age. I found many gorgeous pictures of her dresses and costumes, but there was only one this leotard style outfit. I read that she is considered the most popular 1930’s movie star. She finished her movie career only at the age of 23 due to disagreements with her production company. She comes back to a filming stage after about 30 years later.
The silhouette of the 1930s swimsuit was inspiration from men’s swimsuits (which were still one piece). Men were encouraged to build a muscular yet lean sportsman’s bodies. Women also needed to slim down into an athletic body that was tall, lean and curvy. Swimsuits were cut to show off more leg and more back skin than ever before. The thin straps also made the shoulders appear broader. It became what we know as the swimsuit today.
The two main styles of swimsuits were the maillot and the dressmaker. The maillot was fitted at the torso with a tight skirt covering the crotch. Otherwise, the swimsuit was a tank top style on top and a pair of “boy shorts” at the bottom half.
The dressmaker was less fitted and had an A-line skirt that covered the crotch, just like in the previous decade.
Where a 1930s woman lived determined an appropriate level of modesty. For those willing to reveal more skin, a low dipped back opening was in vogue. The crab back (X shape or Racerback today) was another option that revealed skin to tan but was a little more modest. Tops were still modest with a round, square or halter neck that revealed skin but never cleavage.
The drawstring back straps and waist belt was one iconic style of the 1930s. The corded drawstring made the straps as thin as could be while they tied around the front, making it possible for women to undo the string and remove the straps for the ultimate even tan.
You can find this free pattern on my website!
Information about 1930’s suits