The beaches along the eastern seaboard will be open for the season on the Memorial Day weekend, and the shops are ready to meet just about any need a beach-goer might have.
The No. 1 item for men this summer is the sweat shirt, as a pullover for after-swim and after-sundown wear. A rich variety of colors and cuts is available. Activair, for example, is making them in citrus greens and oranges, as well as blue and navy, and the ribbed knit at neck, sleeve and waistband is sturdy and lasting. The girls are buying them as fast as the boys are—from George Stinch-field's, in Edgartown and Nantucket, and Whitehouse & Hardy, New York City, $6.
While the ladies are having their fashionable fling with beach dresses this season (see SPORTING LOOK) the men can indulge a taste for color with beach pants like those shown here: bold orange (this summer's hot color), green, red and golden vertical-striped cotton hop-sacking, cut with trim legs, self-fabric waistband, slash pockets. They are made by S.I.R. and cost $15 at Breidbart's, New York City. They should be worn without cuffs or socks.
A new men's beach shoe, called Jags, is natural straw combined with leather—and resembles those popular slip-ons from Capri. Whitehouse & Hardy carries them in New York City, for $11.
Another no-nonsense man's beach shirt is copied from the tennis sweater—but in absorbent stretch terry cloth. It comes in white with navy piping at the V neck, in white with red and gold with red. It's available at Mark, Fore and Strike, Florham Park, New Jersey, for $5.
Still another men's beach pullover—the pullover is obviously the thing—is a sweat shirt made of lustrous cotton velour, by Izod, in gold, blue, black, white and beige. One we like particularly has a zipper closing and a collar. It's $9, at De Pinna.
Galleria, 143 East 54th Street, New York City, has men's cotton shorts cut just like basketball trunks. They come in white with orange stripes down the side and around the legs, in blue with gold, and red with gold, have a half belt and metal buckle and cost $7.
A very practical garment for those who swim after the sun goes down and later need a warmer is a gym suit from Alex Taylor's Sport Shop, consisting of a hooded sweat-shirt top, sweat pants bottom. Men's sizes come in gray only; boys' in navy and gray. The cost is $2.75 for the shirt, $3 for the trousers.
A valuable piece of equipment for youngsters is a good old-fashioned, puncture-proof kapok-filled life vest. Nervous parents can relax when the kids are wearing these. The best vests have adjustable straps and are free enough in fit not to annoy or encumber the most active child. Most important of all, they will turn the child head-up, no matter how he goes in the water. The one illustrated is $5.50 at F.A.O. Schwarz. There's nothing encumbering about the elasticized bikini either. It's of nylon knit, in tots' sizes, in red-and-white check, for $3.95, at Saks Fifth Avenue.
The child here is playing with one of the most fascinating of this year's beach toys—a set of French-made plastic molds which form elaborate crenelated castles in the sand. The set with four molds and digging gear is $7 at F.A.O. Schwarz.
And now to the ladies. One of the prettiest outfits for the beach this season is the overblouse and short shorts shown above. They're made by fabric-and-color specialist Jack Lenor Larsen and are available at his new Fifth Avenue boutique (677 Fifth), which he calls J L, Arbiter. The top is cotton velvet, printed in stripes of mauve, orange, red and pink and completely lined in shocking-pink Siamese silk. It costs $49. The shorts, made of the same silk, are $22.50.
The beach carry-all here is more down to earth. It's actually a yachtsman's bag of natural canvas, but handy for beach gear. It's $5 at the Crow's Nest.
The unbleached look, which sets off any woman's tan, is at Peck & Peck. Neat pants and a shirt are of cotton hop-sacking ($13 for the pants, $7 for the three-quarter-sleeved shirt); and a Donegal fisherman hand-knit pullover sweater has a boat neck. It's $20.
Jax on 57th Street have trimly tailored faded-blue denim pants made in two layers of fabric. They are beltless and pocketless—and they fit beautifully if you're as trim as the Jax salesgirls, who wear slacks as a uniform. Robert Leader at 146 East 54th Street has a man-tailored; denim shirt with buttondown collar, three-quarter length sleeves and vented' sides. It is $6.
And speaking of trimness, anyone who thinks of a skin-diver's suit as being a man-from-Mars uniform, should see White Stag's new leotard-like women's insulated swimsuit. It is designed for the early or late season swimmer, is made of 3/16-inch-thick neoprene, and fits over a conventional swimsuit. It is cut like a tank suit. The colors are black, aqua, red or yellow, and the price is $20 at Abercrombie & Fitch.
For fun and games
Beach clothes aren't the only excitement for the beach—far from it. The best idea of a season full of good ones is the pair of pontoonlike shoes shown here. They're 5 feet 6 inches long, made of buoyant, molded fiber glass and urethane foam, and actually are made for walking on water. Water Shoes, Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y. makes them for $40 a pair. They will support up to 350 pounds. They can be used for a sort of water skiing behind a motor as small as five hp. Sportier types can race with them, by holding a hand sail or kite. You can also joust, play water polo, or waltz on them. At Macy's there's a surf version of another sand favorite—horseshoes. Oversize plastic shoes and a floating stake, called Water Horseshoes, cost $8. This game weighs less than three pounds and can be stored in the trunk of a car.
Surf and flutter boards are lighter in weight, better to look at and easier to transport than ever before. Poloron Products, Inc., New Rochelle, N.Y., makes Vacucel (expanded polystyrene) boards with hand holds and stabilizer fins, ranging in size from 18 inches ($1.29) to five feet long ($8.49). And the Kestral Corporation of Springfield, Mass. has a 6-foot 3-inch molded plastic-foam surfboard with dual fins for $18.
Kestral also has an Aqua Chair as comfortable in or out of the water as the living room sofa. It's $7 at stores everywhere. For the same price, Kestral also makes a 65-inch-by-23-inch See-B-Low mattress, complete with tow ropes and transparent viewing window for exploring the deep blue. For those who prefer floating above the water instead of in it, there's an inflatable double-ended dory, the Surcouf, at Kayak Corporation, New York City, which can be made seaworthy in four minutes. It is equipped with two paddles, back rest, wooden flooring and costs $155. A rig for sailing is $10 extra.
Children's inflatable rafts and toys are particularly appealing this year and come in every color and shape that a child could want. There are miniature canoes and sports cars (Kestral, $1.50-$2); seals with flapping flippers and colored jet racers (Doughboy, $2-$2.50); a Snuggle Snake which can be coiled and uncoiled around shoulders, arms, hips and waist (Alvimar, $2); and an Ally-Gator that spurts water when his head is squeezed and will support up to 125 pounds (Remco, $3.98). There are off-center-balanced beach balls with sand pockets which zigzag (somewhat like a bean bag) when thrown (Kestral, 70¢) and giant plastic clowns which can be ridden, punched or pampered (Doughboy, $4). All of these will be found at beachside shops, hardware stores and drugstores. Lectro-Flate (Abercrombie & Fitch, $10.95) inflates all these things in seconds when plugged into the cigarette lighter of the family car. Monroe Fabricators in Chicago make a vinyl air mattress called a Pump-N-Mat that doubles as a beach float. It features a step-on built-in air pump not affected by water, Macy's carries it for $4.95.
Volleyball, long a favorite beach sport, shifts from sand to surf this season. The Argo Floating Volley Ball set (Abercrombie & Fitch, $10.95) has a net supported by polystyrene pontoons. For water skiers there is a ski-to-boat communications system. It is called the Air-guide Ski Talkie, and Abercrombie & Fitch sells it for $65. There is a 75-foot-long rope, which carries the wire to the boat, and handles for the skier on which is installed the water-sealed two-way mike which operates on batteries. Another water gadget is the Paddle-Pal by Cell-Foam, Fort Worth, a polystyrene ball with twin paddles in junior and senior sizes ($6 and $10). It can be used as a float, swimming aid and a handy means of moving about in the water. Abercrombie & Fitch have it.
And now for underwater adventurers. Although oval and round face masks are still preferred by the majority of skin-divers, there are a number of new devices to aid underwater vision now on the market. The U.S. Divers Company has introduced the Aqua-Lung Professional Dive Mask, with a U-shaped wraparound tempered-glass lens. Using the principle of the modern automobile windshield, this mask provides greater peripheral vision with its slanted lens. Recessions in the lower flange of the mask permit pinching nostrils for pressure equalization and relief. The mask sells for $11.95. For the diver who wears eyeglasses, Aquavision, 211 N. Fourth Street, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, will make to order a prescription-ground face plate to fit most masks. The diver sends his specifications to Aquavision, which incorporates them into a new face plate for $39.50. Prescription lenses, hardened to withstand pressures, are also available for the diver. Belz Opticians, 15 East 40th St., New York City, will fit lenses" (cost averages $10 to $15, slightly higher for complicated prescriptions) in a $2.95 plastic adapter unit that goes inside the Squale mask.
For the occasional skin-diver, there are economical plastic prescription lens holders which can be temporarily installed in a mask. Healthways makes one which attaches to the inside of the face plate with a suction cup. It costs $3.95.
For the budget-minded sport diver, there are inexpensive but reliable single hose, two-stage regulators for compressed air tanks. They are equipped with fittings, for pressure gauges and swivel connections on the mouthpieces to prevent hose kinking. Nemrod by Seamless has the Snark II, featuring a tilt valve operated at an angle off the diaphragm and a button to clear water from the mouthpiece. It sells for $32.50. U.S. Divers Company"? makes the Aqua-Div Regulator for $35, and Healthways has the Scubair, with "exhaust pipes" on either side of the N mouthpieces to prevent air bubbles from obstructing vision, for $42.50.
The majority of swim fins with full footpocket, raised ridges along the sides for strength and a flat, broad planing surface, are acceptable for both the neophyte and the expert diver. One innovation found, unfortunately, on only a few, full foot fins is a tiny air slot in the heel to prevent waves from sucking the fin off the foot. Healthways has a universal strap, the "Fixe-Palme," which holds closed-heel fins to the foot at the instep, arch and heel. Made of seamless rubber, it comes in two sizes, costs $1.75 a pair and should prove invaluable to divers.