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Summer is here and the pool is calling your name – but your hair simply cannot take the chlorine and sun. If this sounds like you, then check out a swim cap. Now, calm down, I am not talking about that unflattering Speedo-style cap that Michael Phelps wears. Fashion designers have recreated the vintage 50’s look, and the kitschy trend is a glamorous, water-tight answer to your prayers.

When you think about the old black-and-white reels projecting the images of the swimming holes and poolside parties of yesteryear, it is nearly impossible to imagine a woman with exposed hair. But what happened to the bathing cap since the 1960’s?

Interestingly enough – it was men. Although there were public baths in Greece, England was the first country to popularize such places for fitness swimming. The first modern, public pool was built in Oxford in 1939 and the tradition spread quickly throughout the Americas. Like any public pool today, these pools came with a list of swimming requirements and regulations.

It was mandatory for long hair to be contained in a cap to protect the older plumbing from clogs. However, by the 1960’s plumbing improved, and men’s hair and beards disappeared. Since no self-respecting beatnik would wear a cap, that rule went out of fashion along with the caps it mandated. 

For a long time it seemed that caps were found only on competitive swimmers and in those little boxes found in hotel bathrooms. The good news though is that cap-style bathing has returned, and has a cool retro collection of bathing caps for the modern woman.

For those who wish to have airtight protection from the water, caps like the Galaxy style will give you protection with style. Their etched designs come in an array of colors, all latex, with an interior seal that keeps the water out. The Galaxy also comes with a removable chinstrap just in case. (We tried this one out and it worked!-the editor)

If you’re not planning on diving all the way to the pool’s bottom, then pure design can become a bigger part of the cap. The Sheridan cap is made of latex molded into a bubble- crepe texture. The addition of latex flowers on the side makes this cap just as 50’s as Donna Reed’s casseroles.

For those who need a little more style than function, try the Swim Turban (latex skullcap inside a spandex designer fabric) or Petal Cap. The petal cap has the most vintage couture look because it’s stitched with latex petals. Wearing this cap will ensure that you are the prima stylista at the pool. The look is pure 20’s, but the colors are very 21st Century.

If all that’s stopping you from hitting the pool are fear of split-ends and dry scalps, then you have run out of excuses. Grab one of these caps and dive in!

For more on these swim caps, check out / Issue 109 - September 2018
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