Now that the summer is finally here and we are starting to slowly come out of our shells, our immediate thoughts turn to how are we going to fit our bodies into a bathing suit after months of nervous eating, binging and a surplus of  Zoom training sessions. If only we could go back in time when bathing “gowns” were meant to cover up and seldom (or never) reveal a millimeter of flesh. But we’ll skip the days when weights were often added to the hems to avoid the skirt from rising with the tide (causing obvious difficulties in keeping your head above water).

New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

The Bathing Machine was a vehicle pulled by horses into the water, allowing women to change and swim in privacy. They also were accompanied by strong women, called “dippers” to help with the dunking.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

The next iteration for ocean going gals saw bloomer bottoms topped with a dress to the knees.  They were fashioned from heavy material like wool and felt to avoid any sign of skin. Again, pretty tough to frolic in the sea.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

As standards relaxed, law enforcers did their best to police the size of the suit!  This photo reminds me of the “good sisters” measuring the length of our high school uniforms, which we hiked up on the way to and fro.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

In the ’20s the one-piece bathing suit arrived for modern gals, though still quite modest by today’s standards.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

The two-piece made headway in the ’40s, popularized by movie star pin ups. 

New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

And it was the itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikini that rode a wave of popularity into the ’60’s culture. “Sexpots” like Bridget Bardot, Racquel Welsh, and Ursula Andress took the plunge.

New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

And who could forget the huge splash made by bad boy design sensation Rudy Gernreich with his scandalous monokini in 1964.

New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

So which style suit will suit your summer season? 


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
Hilary celebrates the sea with a slew of bathing beauties.

Hilary’s picks are in the swim: “There are lots of options this season for every body type. The full piece is back with a retro feel. And bikinis with full lower half coverage are everywhere … a perfect solution for the not so perfect quarantine bod. And for those willing to show more skin … the classic triangle string bikini never goes out of style, especially those with a metallic hue. There is even one now called the mermaid suit. Bold prints, tie dye and vintage floral are eye catching and fun. And the dramatic ruffle bikini top is definitely on trend. No matter your figure, there is a suit that will have you dipping your toes in the sea with confidence and style.”



And while I envy Hilary’s two piece and bikini selections (and the fact that she is devoted to her daily Boot Camp workouts)  I am firmly entrenched in my one-piece choices. We have scouted the latest trends of the season —  florals, two tone, ruffles, high bottoms, underwire, long sleeves and found them in flattering fits whatever your body type.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

Succulent Pear Shape? This is the most common body type when your lower body is larger than your upper body (join the club), but you can still look fabulous in a well structured suit with a darker bottom. Look for a v-neck that draws the eye upwards — it is a universally flattering neckline.



All over patterns can be quite camouflaging.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

Timeout for an Hourglass Figure?  You have balanced curves on top and bottom, with a smaller waist. The you’ll need a good bit of support and a style that accentuates your waist.



Nothing like a vibrant print to get you in the mood.



This stunning one shoulder suit provides loads of support while accenting the waist.



Long and Lean?  Lucky you!  This shape is every designer’s muse — thin and in proportion with a long slender shape.  Trending ruffles can add the appearance of curves.



This ingenious Peony suit has removable sleeves to create a bandeau top.



And you are the perfect body type for the new style monokini.



Delicious Apple?  Your top and middle are fuller than your bottom, with slim legs. You will want a design that fools the eye like this Miracle Suit.  You will love the structure and support that is built into this brand.



A Tankini is also a good choice.



A surplice wrap can trim your waist.



Since I swim often, my personal favorite style is a one piece bandeau, with a removal strap.  It ensures proper line-free tanning and of course I apply sunscreen every morning religiously. But just as important as the right suit for me is a great cover-up.  I look for one long enough to wear around the house and while doing errands and always ready to take a dip.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
Tory Burch Floral Tunic, SALE $250 / Tory Burch Floral Suit, $258 / Glamourpuss Hat, $175 / le Specs Cat Eye Shades, $119 / Poolside Half Moon Tote, $150 / Vince Cork Mules, SALE $117 / La Roche Posse Tinted 50 SPF Fluid Sunscreen, $33

This is the Little Black Dress of Swimsuits. Must have!



Tory’s Swimsuits have great fit and style.



I find these long sleeve suits intriguing — they are great protection against over exposure.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.
Seafolly Zip Front Swimsuit, $129 … Seafolly Zip Front Swimsuit, $129


A sign of the times, Elexia, an Italian brand, fashioned a Trikini — bikini, plus mask.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

And Dippin’ Daisy Swimwear, a California company quickly followed suit.


New York Social Diary, Karen Klopp, Hilary Dick, History of Swimsuits.

While most of us will be stay-cationing stateside this summer, it is a perfect time for relaxation, reflection and resolve. The country has gone through the immense crises of contagion and chaos. As the temperature rises, we are hopeful that cooler heads will emerge to lead and unite us for the sake of progress. Hilary and I are donating our summer travel funds to organizations that need our help in both health care (Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) and social justice (Boys Club New York).

Please be generous to your own causes.

Recent Posts