Retro Swimmers: The Beauty of Water Ballet

Dear readers, Ms. Jeannie has found a new love!

While catching up on her magazine reading this week, Ms. Jeannie was flipping through the pages of the April 2012 issue of Vogue Magazine and came upon an article about the Aqualillies

In Sync – April 2012 Vogue Issue pg. 218 – Beauty Fitness

If you are unfamiliar with them – they are an L.A. based synchronized swim team that performs at parties and private events. They have held special “performances” at fashion shows, celebrity parties, hotel openings and they also made an appearence  on the tv show, Glee.

Aqualillies impressive water ballet. Photo courtesy of Erin Hearts Court

The all-girl team carry the retro theme of their sport through classic swim costumes, 1940s makeup and nostalgic song choices but also combine modern acrobatics and dance movements to their routine, which makes it seem both timeless and contemporary all at the same time.

Here’s a quick clip of the ‘Lillies performing…

Doesn’t this look completely fun? Ms. Jeannie could definitively see this being the next big Vegas act!

In addition to performing the girls also teach classes at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.  Ms. Jeannie is going to be in L.A. for a friend’s wedding next April so she’s going to take a class while she’s there! She’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

The origins of synchronized swimming are traced back to Berlin, Germany in the the late 1800’s but it wasn’t until the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1930’s that the sport gleamed international attention.


Chicago World Fair Poster – 1933

There Kathryn Curtis organized her show, The Modern Mermaids, which she referred to as rhythmetic swimming. In the 1940’s Esther Williams, a trained swimmer,  brought water ballet to the big screen starring in such films as Bathing Beauty, Million Dollar Mermaids and On An Island with You.

Here’s the trailer for Bathing Beauty, which came out in 1944.  You can see where the Aqualillies got their inspiration!

Synchronized swimming  became an Olympic sport in 1984 and is only open to female qualifiers – no men allowed in this arena (or pool, as the case may be!) yet. With the Olympics scheduled to start in London in just a few days, Ms. Jeannie is excited to see how the US will fare in this category. Here’s a picture of the 2012 team.

2012 US Snychro National Team 1

One of the things Ms. Jeannie loves most about the Aqualillies is their style. They scour old magazine ads, newspapers and movie footage for fun swimsuit ideas and makeup trends. Retro bathing suits are very popular this year too – so if you need to spruce up your beach attire, click on each of the photos below to learn more…

The Natalie – One Piece Bathing Suit from Anthropologie
1940s/1950s Pinup Bathing Suite from MetricMod
Luxe Tortoise Keyhole Tank from JCrew
Vintage 1940s/1950s Swim Suit from SHESABETTIEBoutique
1930s Swimsuit from brerrabbitvintage

Swim caps became popular in the 1920’s as a way for women to protect their hair from the chlorinated water and to keep stray hairs from clogging pool filters. Aviator styles like this one below dominated the 1920’s:

Vintage 1920s Swim Cap from lactoseintolerart

The 1950’s and 60’s brought about more colorful, stylized swim caps adorned with flowers and frillies like these…

Vintage Swim Cap with Flowers from MommaBeeCollections
Vintage 1960s Swim Cap from plattermatter
Vintage 1960s Feathered Swim Cap

Pair any of these with some red lipstick and a classic hair style and you have one spectacular bathing beauty!

Happy swimming:)

Movie Poster for the 1944 film Bathing Beauty starring Esther Williams

How to Wear A Vintage Sweater

The fun thing about adding vintage pieces to your wardrobe is the variety in how you can wear them. But sometimes this seemingly fun game of match and go can also be challenging.  Don’t fret my dears, Ms. Jeannie is here to help advise.

Let’s take a look at this mid-century sweater that Ms. Jeannie has listed in her shop.

Vintage 1960’s Red Belted Cardigan

It’s bright color, cableknit accents and short sleeves make it a versatile piece to wear in multiple seasons and situations. The belt and buttons lend to its classcly tailored lines, which means that it would look great with the following…

Modern denimn trousers from AnnTaylor 

Modern Denim Trousers from Ann Taylor

Brighten it up even more with an elegant silk blouse…

Orange Silk Blouse from EllaLai

If you have great legs, pair it with a twill skirt from H & M

Twill Skirt from H&M in khaki green

For an office look, wear it with Jones Wide Leg trousers from Anthropologie

Jones Wide Leg Pants from Anthropologie

Or on cool summer nights…

Season Staple Shorts from Anthropologie

For office-in-to-evening outfits, this Jersey Tea Dress from Boden in taupe would be effortless…

Jersey Tea Dress from Boden

Sometimes all it takes is a great accessory like this Italian leather handmade tote to make a vintage sweater look even greater!

Handmade Italian Tote from babiesandbabes

A fun romp through one woman’s experiences with (now vintage!) clothing is the book called Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman.

Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman

This funny, poignant story details the critical clothing choices Ilene made during pivotal moments in her life. Each story is accompanied by delightful illustrations such as this one…

Illustration from Love, Loss and What I Wore

Ilene had no intention of publishing her experiences. She wrote down and illustrated her memories as a momento for her grandchildren and assembled them in a binder.

In 1995, her book was published, much to Ilene’s surprise. In 2010, the book was adapted by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron as an Off-Broadway play.

Playbill Cover

It’s on it’s second year run at the Westside Theater, but will be closing at the end of March 2012 after over 1,000 perfomances. Here’s a picture of the final cast…

Final Cast Members of Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Play

Over 30 different casts have participated in the play. Each cast performed for 4 weeks. Members included: Jane Lynch, Alexis Bleidel, Rita Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Rosie O’Donnell, Kristen Chenowith and Samantha Manthis just to name a few.

Imagine the 1960’s vintage red belted sweater making it all the way to Broadway! Or at least it imagine it sparking some great memories in your life that could be passed down to other generations.

You never know… life is surprising!