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How to speak fluent Swimsuit – a guide to summer from the campari sofa

Posted in fashion, Style & Travel, and Women's issues

tumblr_loi250zqa01r01k8no1_400Camparigirl: I open the drawer that holds my five bathing suits and I honestly can’t decide which one to wear. Memorial Day week-end, glorious weather and my first day at the beach. And my attire choices are all so sad and old. I recycle bathing suits like no other fashion garment, a tad unwisely, but every year I balk at the money needed to buy a decent looking bathing suit. At 20 cheap, cheerful and disposable after one Summer is the way to go; at 50, maybe a little more structure is advisable.

Also, shopping for a bathing suit can be traumatic at best. One would have thought that department stores had gotten the hang of installing flattering lights and slimming mirrors in their changing rooms (some have – shop at Theory and the dim lighting will make you look fantastic!) but, no, every bulge, cellulite dimple is right there, staring back at you in triplicate, daring you to buy that skimpy bikini.

As a former tanning devotee, I still tend to favor two piece suits even if one pieces are generally more flattering. When it’s very hot, the way a one piece can trap sweat is also very unpleasant. I haven’t worn shorts in a good five years now and, if going to the beach, I prefer to cover up in a gauzy dress or a tank top and wrap-around skirt of any length – easy to get in and out of.

I have been scouring the web for some bikinis I might be willing to buy to face the coming Summer: the basic rules were they had to be moderately priced, not too skimpy and a bit structured to hold everything in place. I haven’t willed myself to go into the stores and try them on but I won’t be able to postpone the trip for much longer. Here are my picks with some guidelines on what to look for and what to avoid.

I like this Trina Turk from Bloomingdales ($88.00) because it’s colorful without being garish, it covers both top and bottom appropriately and the halter top offers support. Also the lycra is sturdy and not likely to creep up or sag down when you get out of the water.
Pink might not be for everyone but what this JCrew bikini has going for itself is the structured bra with underwire. If you are busty (certainly not my case), at this point in the game underwire or built-in bra are two easy ways to retain support and comfort. Also, the bottom is the right shape – gone are the days of string bikinis.
This Victoria Secret number is on sale for a mere $40. Say what you want about the chain but they tend to get their bras right. This comes in many colors, including black that, on the beach, is often the chic-est way to go.
Definite bikini no-nos:
– don’t ever think white is a good idea. For obvious reasons, chief among them the see-through effect coming out of the water;
– metallic shades look lovely on models but catch the light in a funky and unflattering way on mere mortals;
– I will pretend no one ever mentioned those bottoms with skirts attached, right? They don’t hide  a thing – if anything, they accentuate;
– worst idea of all is tube tops: uncomfortable, unflattering and gravity prone.
Here are some more examples of dos and don’ts

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Sofagirl: Last summer I resorted to wearing my underwear as outerwear. My bod is slim – but I have a pigeon chest, which makes my boobs look low slung, and I have horrible drapey thighs and ‘substantial’ (a cosmetic surgeon’s description) calves. So drawing attention to myself on the beach is not something I relish. I am flummoxed by the swimsuit industry: why force us all into S/M/L swimsuits when there are myriad sizes of lingerie out there. Surely the penny should have dropped by now – the 34A girl is not going to fit into the same medium as the 34C girl. Offer us options that match bra size. How hard can that be?

Fashion mag research tells me I should be going for a boldly patterned two- or one-piece that will deflects the eye from the imperfection. Frankly the suit would have to have flashing neon to draw the eye from my thighs. So I tend to go in the other direction. But it is impossible to actually enjoy the beach, look good and cover up completely: as Nigella Lawson learned in her Burkini.

Aiy-yai-yai Nigella

I am not a fan of having my bits on display, so I took to the internet to see what the fashionistas had to say. As with any piece of clothing – there are certain rules that govern what costume suits which body. And the ones suggested by Glamour definitely hit the mark – for bodies across the spectrum.

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The Nephew and Nieces were initially  mortified by the black bra I wore as a bikini top (which they recognised as being such immediately – given that they are familiar with every single thing I own, they must troll through my cupboards when I am not looking). But no-one else (seemingly) noticed, my boobs got some lift and the rest was covered by a proper swimsuit bottom. I thought it worked pretty well. So we all got over the initial reveal and had some fun. I liked the simplicity of the black and may try replicate it this year.

Retro is an option - this suit is under $40 at Top Shop
Retro is an option – this suit is under $40 at Top Shop

I have a few personal musts that help make the beach/pool/yacht (ha ha, as if) process bearable:
– A light tan: whether sprayed, self-applied or gently earned through careful sunbathing with high factor SPF (factor 30 minimum for me) – is a one-size-fits-all cure that works for every figure.
– A great pair of statement sunglasses and a big hat: says I am stylish and protected. And neither has to cost a fortune.
– Sun tan cream: always, always, always. Burn looks bad, too dark looks like prune – be smart.

And finally – the ultimate fashion accessory: an ‘I am fabulous’ smile tells everyone you are …. and they will smile right back.

(Images in the public domain. Find more great information at Glamour magazine here)

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  1. silvia

    Camparigirl that La Perla suit would look fab on you; but for your wallet safety Victoria Secret is not bad at all.
    And you sofagirl I can see you gorgeous in that two pieces Nautica Swim or- even better – Sandy Bottoms by Red Carter

    June 20, 2013
  2. Ha,ha,ha! Do you know what we do in Germany? We go to the NUDIST beach! And the best thing about it is: NOBODY cares HOW you look like! Just an idea????

    June 10, 2013
    • Definitely a money saving idea! Although it won’t pass muster with Puritan USA

      June 11, 2013
      • Oh well girl, that means: open the wallet! Did I tell you I love your writing style? I think I already did- but hey, double is better! Happy writing!

        June 11, 2013
  3. I went swimsuit shopping this year and ended up ordering from a UK store by bra size since I am rather large on top. I can’t believe how perfectly the sizing worked out. It is the best suit I’ve owned. It is a one piece, I still have too many post-pregnancy bits that do not ever need to see the light of day in public.

    June 10, 2013
  4. Timely piece indeed. I just pulled my legs of seasonal hiding and was blinded by the glare, so I hear you on the tan. Don’t forget the wide brimmed hat!!!!

    June 8, 2013
  5. Just bought a new suit myself — a navy blue one piece from J.Crew with shirring across the abdomen. I don’t usually wear one pieces, but the shirring is very flattering, and the v-neck is sexy but not overly so. It made a normally frustrating experience somewhat bearable 🙂 Men have it so easy.

    June 8, 2013

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