Costume Party: How To Channel The Retro Swim Style Of ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’


Be the perky teen you want to see in the world

The beach party movie is one of cinema's sillier traditions. In the 1960s, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon drew teen viewers as they frolicked through beaches and inevitably found themselves in madcap situations. The first film, aptly titled Beach Party, was released in 1963, and the series went on to include films like Muscle Beach Party (1964) and the excellently titled How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). The best-known film in the illustrious series is Beach Blanket Bingo (1965). In celebration of summer, it seems fitting to explore this beachy tale from a more innocent time.

While Beach Blanket Bingo is technically the fifth film in the series, one need not dive into the canon to get the gist of the beach party genre. There are perky teens, wily bad guys, and chaste romances. Beach Blanket Bingo's plot involves skydiving, a biker gang, a mermaid, and silent film icon Buster Keaton. The story may not make a whole lot of sense, but it's fascinating as a document of '60s kitsch, and there are some suitably fun clothes.

Bikinis are obviously of the utmost importance. The end credits even have a special "Swimsuits by" credit (shout out to DeWeese Designs of California!) The loveliness of DeWeese's designs really comes through in group shots. The bikinis are candy colored and look like the kind of thing you could buy from ModCloth today. They all have the same cut—structured top and low-cut yet full-coverage bottom—and with the slight variations in color and pattern, the spectacle recalls a contemporary girl group in their coordinated outfits.

Surprisingly, the star wears the most conservative swimsuit. Funicello's pink one-piece is closer in form to a romper than a swimsuit, and the waist-cinching belt makes it look like a real pain to put on. While it's still a cute suit, especially with the hindsight of retro fashion, it's not as carefree as expected.

The most outré swimsuit, a rigidly structured, revealing concoction with a strange mix of furry and shiny materials (which probably wouldn't be very practical for actual swimming), is worn by a dancer whose sole role is to act as a foil to Keaton's stone-faced, oversized-suited presence. The visual contrast is an obvious illustration of the generation gap.

Even if beach party films were targeted to a youth audience, they presented some modest fashions. When the romantic leads, clad in formalwear, walk on the beach, they look like they could be going to a parent-teacher conference.

The nightgowns that the girls wear have a sweetly pin-up look. Outside of lounging, though, there are more long sleeves than expected considering this is, after all, a beach movie.

The non-beach outfits feature bold, visually pleasing swaths of color. One girl even wears a red top with purplish-pink pants—a decidedly difficult combination to pull off, yet it works.

The bad guys in the film, who feel ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon, distinguish themselves with black leather jackets. It's one of the easiest visual cues for deviousness available, and the look also harkens back to youth culture of the prior decade; '50s rebellion is being replaced with the bright palette of the '60s.

The "Rats" insignia on the back of the jackets is a particularly inspired touch. The graphic is downright hipsterish, and it seems some enterprising designer should create a replica.

Of course, in the playful world of Beach Blanket Bingo, swimsuits win out over leather. While the plot is paper-thin, the tableaus of swimsuits, in luscious colors that seemed to only exist in this decade, are an enduring source of fashion inspiration.

Photo courtesy of Balenciaga / Photo via @McDonaldsSverige Instagram

I'm cackling

Last year, Balenciaga released bright red square-toed mules which bore a striking resemblance to McDonald's french fry cartons. Now, the chain has fired back at the designer, threatening to release its own version of the shoes.

McDonald's Sweden posted a photo to its Instagram of a person wearing actual McDonald's fry cartons as shoes, and honestly, if there weren't yellow M's printed onto them, I'd have a hard time distinguishing them from the Balenciagas from a distance. Though the post doesn't directly reference the Balenciaga shoes, one can only assume that's who they are trolling.

McDonald's version actually makes for some pretty fly slip-ons, if you ask me. Good thing the Swedish branch of Mickey D's seems to be considering releasing the shoes if the post receives enough attention. The caption of the Instagram post translates to, "If we get 103042 likes we release these for real," though it only has about 17,000 as of publish time. These would likely cost much less than the Balenciaga shoes, which cost $545.

Internet, do your thing. I want a pair.



Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.