Top of the list of things women dread – after finding the right thing for the wedding that starts in church, ends in a disco, and can be sunny or hailing – is shopping for swimsuits.
But these days, there are so many choices, it’s no more difficult than buying jeans. And, let’s face it, after 40, a woman’s swimwear requirements are quite similar. The big three are: support up top, coverage on your butt, and figure-flattering all over.
I would add to that that I like being able to walk around in a bathing suit without necessarily having to cover myself frantically.
It’s a butt coverage issue, but it’s also a fabric that doesn’t show the outline of your belly button. I want slimming tricks – draped or eye-catching panels – built-in support and glamour. Because you don’t just want to feel naked in a cossie, you want to feel well dressed.
Boden has a number of cossies that can’t be wrong, including the chic V-neck Corset style in French Navy (£70, boden.co.uk) and the Kefalonia (pictured above, £65) in deep blue with pink suspenders or a green frog with blue
Luckily, the sales are already underway, so there’s no time like the present to upgrade.
Starting with the one-piece (we’ll move on to larger bikinis) you need a decent strap width – for support and because it looks better – and nine times out of ten I wear a back nude because they’re flattering and they give you extra hoist.
Obviously, you need cups and underwires. I’m pretty much flat chested, but regardless of your cup size, that’s what gives you a silhouette: a back that stops at your bra line (the lower back doesn’t offer any support) and a thick strap under the braline.
High in the back, low in the front is a good rule. Boden is a brand that offers all of the above, support in all the right places, and styles that cut the leg height just right (not straight, which makes the legs look chunky, and not high, which makes you makes you feel too exposed and reduced buttock coverage).
Unconsidered choice: Nancy Shevell. Shane Watson says that thanks to Nancy, she would like to get rid of the classic bikini
It has a number of foolproof cossies, including the chic V-neck Corsican style in French navy (£70, boden.co.uk) and the Kefalonia (£65) in deep blue with pink or frog green straps with blue.
The big secret to a sexy onepiece is to make it look like something Carla Bruni would wear (please note that she could easily wear a bikini, but these days she usually prefers not to).
A Carla Bruni swimsuit choice would typically be purple with a u-neckline, so if you’re looking for something similar, try Marks & Spencer’s Ribbed U-Shaped Plunging Neck Swimsuit in Khaki (£29.50 , marksandspencer.com). The block color always looks more modern than the pattern, in my opinion, and the bright, plain stripes or panels are where I always end up with a unique piece.
I swear by Marks & Spencer because why wouldn’t you buy your swimwear where you buy your bras and panties? Marks does everything from colour-block trompe l’oeil suits (£49.95, marksandspencer.com) to a sleek, ruched style of tummy control (£28).
SWIMWEAR: THE NEW RULES
- Try a color-block one-piece.
- Go low in front, high behind.
- Wear a lycra with a bikini bottom.
- Avoid leg cuts that are too high.
Pain de Sucre is another of my favorite labels. He does a flattering red ‘sports bra’ swimsuit with a triangular gap under the strap at the back (£54.99, boujeepeople.com).
If you’re looking for a bikini, the Pain de Sucre bikini tops are perfect because of that extra wide strap (£89, vitkac.com) and the high waisted bottoms are cut to be more flattering (£49, vitkac.com).
I also love — you won’t be surprised to find out — Boden’s high-waisted bikini (£40 for the briefs, £45 for the matching top). The color blocking makes the bottoms much smaller than they are, and the overall effect is cute and sporty.
Alternatively, for great bikini bottoms and bra sizes ranging from 32DD to 38FF, try ex-fashion editor Tona Stell’s collection (from £75 for a bikini top, tonathelabel.com) .
Personally, I thought I had said goodbye to the bikini, but recently I had the idea for a bigger bikini bottom. (Is it thanks to Nancy Shevell, often photographed walking hand-in-hand through the waves with Macca in bikini bottoms and lycra?)
They don’t always work, but they do with a rash guard/vest, which I like to wear these days as an alternative to endless 50 factor applications.
The other thing about a rashguard is that you can please your inner Bond Girl and get one with a zip neck in bright colors. My favorite is Boden’s Pink and Eggplant and it’s on sale for just £25, or try Cossie + Co (£100, cossieandco.com).