The subject of swimsuits creates anxiety for a lot of women. Time and gravity take their toll and waistlines disappear. Skin elasticity changes over time as well. So, when shopping for your suit, pay attention to the details. Look at the back of the suit as well as the front. A lot of swimwear will have a very low cut back, or lots of lacing in the back that you will have to deal with.
Also, consider how high an angle you are willing to go in the leg area. Visually, a slightly higher cut leg opening will elongate the look of your legs and make you look slimmer than one that is pretty much straight across.
BTW – Because of the recession retailers are putting everything on sale, especially swimwear. So there are major bargains to be had. And you just know that they are trying to ditch summer inventory to bring in wools and overcoats as soon as possible. Ignore that. (It’s one of my fashion pet peeves. Retailers: when it’s hot outside, show us summer clothes!!!) So let’s look at some of the trends in swimsuit fashion and consider how they might work for different body types.
#1 “Lingerie” Two-Piece
If you’re still willing to wear a two-piece there are some very interesting options. Of course, bikinis will always be around, but this year they are being re-interpreted. You might take exception to the idea of calling them bikinis, but that’s how a lot of them are being described. There are several two-piece suits with under wires, but are they actually comfortable for swimming? Probably no less than a one piece with a built-in under wire. But if you need the support, you just need the support!
One take on this theme is the bra top and bottom look. Frankly, a lot of these are pretty much indiscernible from bras and matching panties. The bottoms are more substantial than panties, of course, but I bet you could buy certain lingerie sets like these and wear them by the pool and nobody would bat an eyelash.
The tricky part is the tummy. But many of them have matching bottoms with a very high waist. Those will slim up your mid-section. This one on the left is probably more appealing to a more slender body with a smaller bust. And the one on the right is from a company that primarily made lingerie but has now expanded into very supportive swimwear. This is another versions of this trend.
Actually, these kind of remind me of what we used to call “bikinis” in my youth…before it meant triangles on strings!
#2 High Neck One Piece
This year we’re seeing a lot of suits with very high necklines. These are terrific if you feel at all uncomfortable about the skin above your bust line, or if you simply want more coverage. (Speaking as someone who hates the cold, it feels less shocking to enter cold water if my upper torso and neck area have some coverage.)
Some of these are zip ups, which is a cute and sexier version. And many of the patterns and trims make them more than just swimwear. They become a fashion statement unto themselves. Small – and large – ruffles are another theme these year.
This one on the left is very straight-forward, but the color is the wow factor. And, it’s chlorine resistant. Note that the leg openings are straight across. This angle might be a good choice if you have stretch marks or a lot of cellulite on your upper thighs.
And this last one segues into our next trend, which makes maximum coverage not just acceptable but very cute and fashionable.
#3 More coverage
A lot of us wish we had stayed out of the sun in our youth. Maybe the young ‘uns have gotten the memo too, because a very popular trend among all age groups is what is called “rash guard” swimwear. That simply means you will avoid sun rash (and skin damage) because not only do these suits cover more of your skin, many of them are made from textiles that actually protect the skin from UV damage. A lot of them are sold as separates.
Essentially they look pretty much like wetsuits but with more pizzazz. So you get the triple benefit of looking athletic, being fashion-forward, and if the textile is right, protecting your skin from the sun.
#4 Maillots and trendy one-piece versions
For a lot of us, though, the old reliable one-piece is our swimsuit of choice. But this year they’ve added some details to make them a little, well, unique. You will some that are asymmetrical, meaning they have just one shoulder strap. I guess if that shoulder strap is strong enough you don’t have to worry about a sudden wardrobe malfunction when you dive into the water.
This one on the right also incorporates another theme you will see, a feminine one, which is ruffles. Color blocking is another. The darker bottom in this one (below) is very slimming.
Then there is the simple v-neck or square neck maillot, which withstands the test of time, year after year. This is because
they are simply very flattering on just about all body types and suitable for just about every personal style. A lot of them have adjustable straps too, just like lingerie tops.
But there are some nice variations that bring it fashion-forward like this ruched striped suit (below.) It has a nice high square back too. And this ruffle trimmed one below that.
The advantage of tankinis – two piece suits that look like maillots – is that you can get the tops and bottoms in different sizes. Also, a lot of them are sized for your specific cup size. For a while lately they were looking a little dated. But there have been some upgrades that make them another worthy contender. A brighter color or bold print freshens up the feeling of the traditional tankini. And if you get the bottoms in a darker color it can visually slim up the look of your bottom.
This one (below) has the option for the shorter shirred version you see here or a longer straight top that won’t leave the belly gap. For those of you who still identify with your inner girly-girl, this peplum top tankini (below that) is a sweet option you’ll be seeing a lot.
#6 Skirted Swimsuits
Speaking of skirts, skirted swimsuits are back. Actually, I‘m not sure they were ever gone, but they certainly are prevalent now. They are often made with a lot of support for a larger bust, and they have the great advantage of the fact that they cover your upper thighs and bottom. And a skirt is always a feminine garment, because it has motion. They call these two “swim dresses” which is a very good description. They can be feminine, playful, and devoid of any of the less than flattering associations we might have about skirted swimsuits.
This one (below) comes in regular and plus sizes – up to size 22.
How to Choose
Now, for those of you who are completely comfortable in your skin, the following may not even be a concern. But if you want to de-emphasize certain parts of your body, or if you are just more modest, here are some things to consider.
Do you have black “flab?” or “love handles?”
Avoid very low back suits.
Are your upper arms exceedingly flabby?
Consider one of the cap sleeve or “rash guard” elbow length or wrist length tops.
Want to avoid skin cancer?
See above. Those full-length sleeve “rash guard” swimsuits are becoming very popular now, even among younger women who have very fair skin.
Do you just absolutely hate your varicose veins?
There are various brands of waterproof leg makeup. Or you can try a self-tanner. The chief ingredient in these is considered “mostly safe,” (whatever that means) works on the outer layer of the skin, and only last a few days. Just avoid using it around your eyes.
Are you uncomfortable about the texture of the skin above your bust?
Try one of the new high-neck styles.
Finally, I just want to add one last comment, for those of you who are supremely self-confident. A friend of mine, a former runway and cover model, has posted un-retouched photos of herself as she has aged well into her 70’s. She recently shared this meme:
“How to get a bikini body? Buy a bikini. Put it on your body.”
Note: I originally wrote much of this material for Sixty and Me. Here is the short video I created to go with that post. It’s about the various kinds of cover-ups you can wear with swimsuits.
What is your favorite swimsuit style?
Have you bought a new one lately?
What kind of swimwear did you once wear that you simply won’t wear these days?
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