Tuesday, 26 May 2015

French Riviera

Sunshine has finally hit Cornwall; the weather has been gorgeous all weekend. I made the most of it and spent yesterday on the beach eating pizza and sunning myself- something I very rarely do due to my pale pale complexion!

Now that the sun has come out to play I can get on with one of my ambitions for this year. It might seem a little strange but I cannot swim! I have tried very very hard to learn over the years but it's never gone very well at all. At the beginning of this year I vowed I'd learn, it's so silly to live right by the sea and not be able to hop in! I have a whole variety of vintage swimsuits which until now have been relegated to pool lounging but no longer; they will now get a chance to fulfil their true purpose. I've been so embarrassed for so long about not being able to swim that I hardly told a soul for years, I realised recently that quite a few people I know can't which made me feel a lot better about telling people. I've  met lots of people who have managed to overcome their worries and gone on to become keen swimmers. I'd love know if any of you have any advice or experience on learning to swim later in life? 

In honour of this momentous event (I haven't even stepped into a pool since I was 15 and had a panic attack on sports day when I was supposed to swim laps!) I donned my best 1920s riviera get-up and splashed around in a make-shift pool on my roof.

I've always loved the cool collected calm of Hockey's pool paintings and delightfully flat perspective. I dream of being able to jump in and swim about (hopefully soon..!)

A bigger splash, David Hockney, 1967
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Likewise with 1920s French Riviera posters. The Riviera has been on my mind a lot due to Riviera Style which opened this weekend at the Fashion & Textile Museum, I can't wait to visit when I'm in London in July. I'm also about to book a holiday, I've been umming and ahhing over the south of France or Spain (Barcelona probably). It's such a tough decision but these posters make me think perhaps France might win out. 

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My outfit also takes hints from synchronised swimmers (they are after all the masters- I don't think I'll ever quite reach their heights.)
1950s synchronised swimmers
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1950s synchronised swimmers
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The jumpsuit I have had since I was about 14, handed down to me from my mum who used to wear it out and about in the 80s. I adore it and really wish it was a swimming costume (if anyone has any tip offs for 1920s bathing suits I'd be delighted!)

The scarf I'm wearing is a Collier Campbell one that my mum found in a charity shop and gave me for Christmas; needless to say I was very happy! My mum did used to have a Collier Campbell bag in the Cote d'Azure print which would have been wholly appropriate for this post, sadly in a moment of grumpy teenage huffiness I rejected it when it was offered to me.

Cote d'Azure, Collier Campbell
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 I have no idea if I'll manage to learn to swim, I hope so, if not I'm quite happy with my make-shift pool and lounging on a towel sipping cocktails. I hope you're all having fun in the sun, I'm off to buy ingredients for a bbq now. Au revoir!

Outfit Details

1980s playsuit - belonged to my mum

knitted cloche hat - knitted by a friend to a 1920s pattern

Geometric scarf - Collier Campbell (via a charity shop)

Suede shoes - Fly



  1. I'm sad that you can't swim. It didn't come naturally to me but I had lessons and although I'm still scared of getting out of my depth do love it.
    Great pseudo swimsuit and a lovely scarf. the Hockney swimming pool picture adorned my bedroom wall in the 1980s. xxx
    PS http://americanduchess.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/how-to-make-quick-and-easy-1920s.html

  2. It's ok that you can't swim, I can't ride a bike. I was bought a bike as a child and it got stolen, so it kind of put me off getting another one. And I never got another bike until I was older, but it was a 3-wheel old fashioned bike, so I didn't really need to learn how to ride it. Then I grew old enough to drive a car and just never learned to ride a bike. Maybe I will learn one day & you can try swimming again. This playsuit and hat are just so perfect, I love them :)) xx

  3. This is a great goal. I love the vibe you have created here, the French Riviera. I have a swimsuit that I bought new with boy-short legs. The new touches are it zips up the front, is sleeveless, and has high-tech swim fabric. I looove it. I hope you find a vintage prize. There are also some very beautiful new but vintage-style swim caps around too. Good luck!

  4. Well you certainly look the part. I can imagine you saying things like, 'do come in Bertie, the water's simply splendid'. I grew up in the tropics, so we learned to swim very young, however there are a couple of tricks which may help. Arm bands and flippers! Arm bands keep you afloat and flippers give you more power to keep going and make it more fun. Make you feel like a mermaid. I can imagine you as Lorelei. Anyway, if you do manage it, it will enhance your holidays to the south of France no end! Xxxx

  5. Good for you planning to learn to swim, it is never too late. If I was you I would go for some one on one instructions and just take it slow. As long as you can float on your back you will be fine. And while floating you will look fabulous, no need to splash about and cause a fuss, just float and look gorgeous!

  6. Ah, where to start/ The amazing jumpsuit/swimsuit - a perfect re-creation of 20s beach chic (interestingly, posted a photo very recently on instagram of my great grandma, wearing a bathing suit, and thinking about it, yep, must have been the 20s). Then there's the brilliant Hockney-esque swimming pool of the imagination you're splashing around in.
    And oh, I do so hope that learning to swim goes, well, swimmingly. I get so much pleasure from outdoor river/lake and sea swimming; for me it's really meditative. Wishing you huge luck with it.