Do You Remember? Body Glove

It fits on the body, like a glove. It’s a Body Glove.

Body Glove was the creation of twin brothers Bob and Bill Meistrell, both dive and surf fanatics. California transplants from Missouri, the two siblings were born for the water. In 1953, before surfing got popularized by beach movies like Gidget, the brothers were partners in a dive shop called Dive ‘N Surf. But the waters of northern California could be cruel, cold and icy. As avid cold water sportsmen, the boys sought to create an insulating suit that could protect both divers and surfers from the freezing waters.

A refrigerator insulator, neoprene, was determined to be a suitable material, and the boys were in business. Their Thermocline suits went into production, but Thermocline wasn’t a catchy name. The laid-back lifestyles of the dive/surf scene wanted flair and fashion, not science. So after a reconsideration, the name gave way to the obvious: their new ‘wetsuit’ fit like a glove on the body, and so it became known as Body Glove.

The science behind a wetsuit is fairly simple: Neoprene is a closed cell foam, meaning that within a ½” thick piece, there are hundreds of tiny bubbles. These bubbles are a barrier, keeping body heat in and cold water out. The very thin layer of water that seeps into the suit when it gets wet warms to the temperature of the body, and remains trapped inside to create an insulating layer between suit and body.

Body Glove was a hit with the divers, but when the 60’s surfing scene hit from shore to shore, Body Glove rode the wave in on the backs of surfers. The wetsuit became a necessary accessory to the surfer, and Body Glove was it. Their logo, a bright yellow circle with a stylized linear drawing of a hand, said it all: bold, bright and bitchin’.

By the 80’s, surfing was bigger than ever thanks to the sun and fun culture of California’s surfing scene, and movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The suits even left the beach for the street, thanks in part to Living Colour singer Corey Glover (yes, his real name) and his on-stage fondness for the suits.

In the 90’s, Body Glove expanded into neoprene bikinis for the girls, in sexy neon colors and with zippered tops. These bathing suits were the hottest (and coolest) on the beach, and the yellow circle with the hand remains a major surfing label in a sea of competitors.

About Mickey Yarber 226 Articles
Editor-in-ChiefSometimes referred to as the Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via my Retro Ramblings column.

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