Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1970s high-fashion swimwear

I’m going to admit straight out that I was quite surprised by your response to last weeks 1880s  blue & brown bustle dress.  I though that you would universally denounce it for well, everything.  I thought it had potential in the materials, and potential in the design, but neither quite worked.  But many of you liked it…a lot!  Not all of you, by any means, but enough of you to bring the rating in at a quite impressive 8 out of 10 – a whole two points higher than I was expecting!

Shows how good I am at predicting your reactions!

I know that I usually stay pre-1960 with Rate the Dress, but sometimes I see something a bit more recent that I just think needs to be featured.

Like this:

What a fascinating take on a swimsuit.

On the one hand, you could look at it and see an elaborate set of diaper-bloomers, with all that gathered fabric.  On the other, you could see an interesting take on the way water flows and moved: the fabric will move about the body like water, and create its own dance of movement in the water, like loose hair.

What do you think of what you see?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Erin says

    I love this. It’s simple but captivating, and though the bloomers run the risk of looking ridiculous, I can appreciate fashion that has a little sense of humor. The color would look right at home on the beach or poolside. The only doubts I have are about the back, I wish there was a photo of it! 8/10

  2. Julia Ergane says

    You could never swim in this; however, I am reminded of an adult version of a sun-romper without the gathering at the waist. The colour is lovely; however, what was cute when you were 3 is usually not so cute when you are 33. Score 1/10

  3. Laura says

    I think this is gorgeous, but probably wouldn’t be good for actual swimming. As a “playsuit”/frolicking on the beach/reading next to the pool in a big had and sunglasses, I think it’s beautiful and original. 9.5

  4. Yeah, as a beach outfit, it’s about 9, as an actual swimsuit, it’s about 3 from me, so that evens out as 6/10.

  5. I find it most foolish, almost anyone would look poorly in it, it is completely impractical for swimming, which it was obviously never used for, and I don’t like the drape, or that color for summer. Also I never saw anyone wear anything remotely like it in 1976 when I was a junior in a California High School and lived at the beach with my friends! So I can’t find a redeeming feature 1 out of 10.

  6. As an objet d’art I can appreciate the lines and flow. As clothing it looks like I could have taken my laundry bag, dyed it that rather fabulous color and did some work with scissors and sewing at the lower edge. The neck cord looks so fragile and unable to withstand the additional weight of water or wind.

    Conflicted, so 5/10

    • Elise says

      Right! As an art-piece, it’s interesting. As an item of clothing, it’s awful. I applaud the experiment, but dislike the execution.
      5/10 from me, too.

  7. Lucy says

    OK, lets start with the good… The color is stunning. I love the little braided/pleated detail at the neck. And that’s it. With how low cut on the torso it is, I’m worried about containment. And the bottom is so unflattering and baggy. Look at all that bunched up fabric between the legs! That doesn’t look comfortable OR attractive. 2/10.

  8. Rachel says

    As a concept, it’s interesting and, as you said, would look great in the water. And the color’s fantastic. As a playsuit, I can see the appeal, but it looks too much like a drawstring bag for me.

  9. The colour is great, and in theory I like what they’ve tried to do with the drapery, but it’s not flattering on the mannequin and I can’t imagine it being flattering on a real person. I don’t mean you’d have to have the right body shape for it; I seriously doubt this would look good on anyone.

    I also think it would be a nuisance to actually swim in it. 4/10 for trying to do something innovative and different.

  10. Carol says

    It looks like an overdone 1970’s gym suit with a modified top. Completely unflattering. Swimming in that would be like swimming in a gunny sack. Rating: 2

  11. probably a 7.5 in general. it has a certain elegance on the model, but on mere morals it could look less successful – i love the halter part and the fabric choice has a great drape (although i am not a swimmer, i would imagine there is drag, so it looks better for beside pool lounging)

  12. The color, though not one I’d wear, is fine. But the drapey style is unflattering; it would look silly on a tall, thin person and would make any short person (tall or not) look dumpy. Ick. A 4.

  13. For Debbie Harry to wear on stage: 10.
    For a mere mortal to wear as an actual swimsuit, it would have to be in the minuses.
    It’s wonderful, adorable and so completely impractical and unwearable: the kind of thing my ten year old might conjure out of scraps to dress a doll. 4/10.

  14. It’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t work as a swimsuit. The jersey fabric would be drooping down by your knees as you emerged from the pool. And it’s a very unforgiving shape on any but the most slender. 3/10

  15. I see nothing redeeming, though I like your creative way of describing it. Really, I wouldn’t be caught anywhere near it. 1/10.


  16. holly says

    Scroll down fug! 10 for the top half. 0 for the bottom half (can that be flattering to ANY body shape?) so that’s a middling 5 / 10.

    I wrote that before I read other comments and I’m surprised to see I’ve given it a high score compared to most!

  17. Viscose? For a swimsuit? ….this cannot have been meant to really get wet. It would either sag and bag or go all woody, or both, and take forever to dry. As an abstract art piece, the color is pretty and the draping is nice…as something to actually be worn…uh, no. 2 points….one for the color and one for the drape. But just for artistic value on a mannequin.

  18. Hearthrose says

    It’s pretty enough, but how can you swim in it? Sit by the pool with a drink, yes. Wade softly and gently into still water, yes. But swim properly? Forget it.

    Thus I must rate it a 4 out of 10. Nice color, pretty lines… but not suited for its function.

  19. As I was scrolling down, I was like oooh this looks pretty and then I got past the waist and it was like what?!? It’s like an evening gown and a diaper had a baby. Fail!

    2/10 just because it’s a nice color.

  20. Oh my sainted aunt! I have the feeling that anyone swimming in this would look like a pointy-topped jellyfish as all that fabric blobbed and swirled.
    The draping at the top is lovely, but the bottom looks like it was originally a dress until someone tucked it into their knickers. Dreadful.

    • Lyn Swan says

      Beautiful as a dress, wretched as a “swim suit”. Thank you for providing the picture of the dress, it is stunning!

  21. Breanna says

    I think it’s lovely. It is very nontraditional for a swimsuit, but the drapery is elegant and sensual. The color is vibrant and glows instead of being garish, like some bright color choices are. I actually like the cute way the suit gathers into little bloomers. Perhaps a different, cleaner finish on the hem would pull the whole thing together a bit better.
    I give it a 9.

  22. Lynne says

    I was going to suggest it might work as a maternity swimsuit for someone who was resigned to looking like a pumpkin, but on looking at some of the comments, I see even that wouldn’t work. People are right – it would sog and sag and the neck strings do look frail.

    1 out of 10. I do like the colour.

  23. the moment it got wet it would droop and at the same time cling only to those bits you don’t want it to cling to. If the legs stayed where they’re meant to there would also be chafing and I think the likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction is very high.

  24. I think it’s really nice. It has lovely flow and simplicity and elegance, the latter not aways something you associate with swimwear. I don’t think it’s actually a swimsuit and agree it’s more of a playsuit. The colour and fabric work well together.

    Much as I’d like to give this a 10/10 because of all the utter snottiness and negativity it’s inspired (yes, I accidentally looked at some of the comments first) I will give it a fair rating.

    7.5/10. There’s not really much to rate here. 5 points for naffing off so many people, 1 point for colour, and 1 point for drapery. Plus an extra 0.5 just to naff off the haters even more.

    This is just as distorting and drapey in its own right as the bustle dress was, but clearly it isn’t old enough to be historical, so therefore it must be looked down on with lip curling distaste and hauteur and disgust that your eyesight was wasted on something so revoltingly modern. (hey, just returning the hyperbole…. ;))

  25. I have visions of this looking great on someone sitting poolside with a bright 1970s patterned chiffon open robe over top of the swimsuit, sipping a drink and looking absolutely stupendous. As a swimsuit by itself and in terms of functionality as an actual swimsuit to go swim, have fun, and not worry about it falling off or looking like a sack once wet, not so much.
    3 out of 10

  26. Boy, did I ever commit typos in my comment! I meant to say that the suit would make any woman, no matter what her figure, look dumpy–especially a woman with a short torso. And I agree that actually attempting to swim in this suit would risk a severe “wardrobe malfunction”. On the bright side, it would probably be easy to remove once wet, unlike many heavily elasticized or spandexed suits.

  27. Great colour… And I quite like the look like this, dry and on a super-skinny mannequin. I’m so sure it would look as good on a real person and even less sure it would be survive contact with water with anything resembling grace. And since that’s the first requirement for swimwear (if you ask me, that is) I can’t give it more than 4/10

  28. letthemeatcake says

    It does look quite chic on the photo. But imagining it in motion ( or ballooning in the pool) might look a little awkward. Or lets face it: it would look awkward on most women. I said MOST. Because if a woman can pull this off she’s inspiring this particular kind of displeasure in other women which is equivalent to: Damn she can wear a potato sack, can’t she! Think Jennifer Lawrence in ” American hustler” wearing this. So with that image in mind I give it a 7.5

  29. Charlotte says

    I’ve been reading the blog for a little while now and this is my first comment 🙂 I think this swimsuit is lovely. While the color may not suit my taste exactly, the playful spirit of the suit exemplifies summer lounging by the pool. I particularly like the diagonal looking gathering of the material into the V-neck. It reminds me of the modern Japanese fashion for poufy shorts and rompers.
    10/10 for charm and whimsy- high fashion doesn’t need to be practical!

    • Kathy says

      The cotton fabric improves this garment 1,000%. Thanks for finding the link.

  30. I actually like it! I think it would be quite comfortable for lounging by the pool and I even think that some less-than-vigorous swimming would be fine in it. The color is gorgeous, and I love the balance of the minimal halter top and gathered bottom. And all the “it would be unflattering” comments–I actually think it would be ideal for camouflaging a bit of a tummy pooch while highlighting legs and shoulders! That said, it’s not the most practical design for the purported purpose, and so I knock a couple of points for the fact that the fabric’s volume would go from undulating draping to plaster-flat–and unflattering–when wet. 8 out of 10.

  31. I don’t like it. Plain red is boring. It also just looks like someone forgot their swimsuit and just wrapped their self in a sack. or they’ve got a massive wedgie from pulling their bloomers up so high! 2 out of 10 only because it’s not a two piece which looks even more like undies.

  32. Alex says

    It would make a nice blouse, but the bloomer bits make it horrific.

  33. I think it’s a great color for summer. I like lines and the look, however the mannequin is 1) skinny, 2) immobile and 3) has no discernable thighs. The Met’s description does mention the suit has an “interior elastic hook and eye waist tie” so perhaps it wasn’t as likely to scoot around as imagined.

    Very few people would have been able to pull this one off – but since when do designers consider anyone who isn’t 5’10” and a size 2? And at that size, no one’s going to have a bubbly butt no matter what they wear.

    But if someone was the right shape and height, and had the right coloring to support that bright tomato red, I can imagine her lounging by the pool or on the beach with a pair of big-ass ’70s sunglasses and a cool drink in hand…looking like a knockout.

    An imaginary 10/10 for imaginary her. A 4/10 for mere mortals.

  34. JessieRoo says

    It seems like a lot of people don’t care for the bloomer look, but I kind of like it. True, they can look like something for a small child, but they also bring to mind late teens-1930’s lingerie-either way, having multiple pairs of bloomer-esque shorts that I wear both as jammies, and as swim shorts, I can attest to their comfort and practicality-ah, so much nicer sitting rough beach rocks, when your bum doesn’t come in direct contact with the sharp surfaces! I also like the drapey halter top quite a bit, but whole-heartedly agree that it would completely impractical for actual swimming, as it would trap water as one swam about. I’d say an 8-ish for looks.

  35. Erin says

    I love it! I think it would look especially well with a large brimmed sunhat.

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