It is scorchingly hot in Denver this summer. Now is the time of year when I’d like to spend as much time at the pool as I do at work. Some of us have got as much skin out as the law will allow and most of us want a nice patch of shade, a cool swimming pool and a cold drink. Maybe you’re one of those people who starts thinking about their poolside game as soon as the mercury rises above 55 degrees, or maybe you get invited to pool parties and water parks and scramble around looking for your old stretched out one-piece from that one summer you worked at the neighborhood pool. When was it? 5? 10 years ago? Whichever way you’re swayed, you can look to vintage and secondhand items to up your summer swim style.


Model Chanel Iman and friend wearing swim separates and vintage at Coachella, 2012

Here’s the thing– if you’re going to head over to the pool, out to the lake or out to Milliken, CO on July 1st for the 303 Magazine Pool Party, you want to feel just as good about how you look while you’re lounging poolside or walking to the snackbar as you’re going to feel when you get in the water. Don’t run all over town to find a suit that you feel great in but forget to think about what you’ll wear over that suit.

I’ve discovered a great source for hot weather, poolside style inspiration– festival fashion. Attendees at festivals like Coachella, which takes place in late spring in Indio, CA, have to be prepared for the possibility of some seriously hot weather. Outfits are chosen for maximum style and comfort, resulting in lots of cutoff denim shorts, bikini tops and maxi skirts, vintage hats, combat boots, chunky vintage sandals and piles of vintage accessories. Big sunglasses, bigger hats and plenty of sunblock complete many a festival-goers look.


Jean shorts and swim separates at Coachella, 2012

You definitely don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a poolside-ready vintage look. Scour local thrift stores for denim jeans that fit you well at the waist and over the bum. Personalize the jeans by cutting them into shorts and distressing them with sandpaper or decorating them with bleach . Try dipping them in 50/50 bleach water up to the pockets or spraying them with a solution of 50/50 bleach and water and then washing them in cold water. Fold the bottoms or pull at the fringe along the bottom before washing and drying so that it frays nicely before wearing. Your DIY shorts will look fantastic with a bikini top or one piece and chunky sandals or combat boots.

You don’t want your head to roast while you’re sitting by the water, so check the women’s section at the thrift store for large brimmed hats to shield your face from the sun’s rays, or, if your style is more menswear inspired, head over to the men’s section to find a vintage fedora. While you’re in the men’s section, keep your eye out for classic men’s button down shirts. A button down looks great tied at the waist and paired with a bikini or one piece, jean shorts or a vintage maxi skirt– another piece you can look for at the thrift store. Look for skirts that are made of light and airy material that will keep you cool, even if it hangs to your ankles. Sheer oversized blouses and sheer or silk robes will also keep you cool and elegantly stylish as you lounge in a cabana or stroll to grab a cocktail.

Annalyn McCord relaxing poolside

Annalyn McCord hanging out poolside in an airy maxi and cozy shrunken denim jacket

By seeking out items you can personalize, and classic vintage pieces that are frequently donated to thrift stores, you can put together a fantastic, affordable swimsuit coverup that looks and feels fresh and fantastic. The beauty of classic vintage pieces is that even if you forget about them for 5 or 10 years, they can still look current when you pull them out years from now. This summer is going to be super hot, as many summers are– stay cool in vintage pieces that look good and keep you cozy when the days are scorching but the water is cold.