I read somewhere recently that in Europe, any woman under the age of 60 is regarded as frumpish if she’s seen on the beach in a one-piece. It’s quite a shock to someone who has not shown her midriff since the birth of her second child. Don’t they have the same barriers I do?
- Skin colour (as white as an iceberg)
- Skin texture (Stretch marks, fat flaps and belly wrinkles)
- Self esteem issues regarding weight (give me a tent I can hide behind)
- A need for a suit that sculpts and lifts (full body armour would be best)
I have not been bikini shopping for over ten years, but a drop in weight that has got me to an almost healthy BMI (currently 25.4) helped me to put aside a couple of the above concerns. Would you believe that I actually found something I could wear? It even looks better than all of my one-pieces. I’m still blinding people with my lily-white flesh, but at least I don’t look like a senior citizen. I now agree with Europeans; you should never lie on a beach in the same swimsuit as your grandmother.
A couple of things I discovered:
- Ranges have improved in ten years. Many shops have ranges with several tops matching several bottoms, so you don’t have to deal with that one-style-fits-all dilema.
- Roll-top or high-waist bottoms mean you can cover stretch marks below your belly button. There are even some options around with a spanx-like panel in them, but you need to be careful with this because it can cause unsightly muffin bulge.
- It’s best to do a bend and snap, and then a squat to make sure the bottoms are not too skimpy (it’s not attractive to see them get sucked into the anal vortex).
- Boy leg bottoms are usually fairly low-cut in the waist and are widest at the level where your bottom ends, so, although they cover the fattest bit of your behind, they are only good for long-legged types with narrow hips. Which is pretty much nobody I know.
- Strapless tops mean I end up with boobs around my waist, but halter necks pull them up and inwards. Stringy triangles looked like they were holding in fried eggs. Any breasts that have been though size changes (weight gain and loss, breastfeeding) need something to fight gravity.
- Straps and back ties should be simple, and wide if possible – too many/too narrow and you get fat bulge or a suit that gapes in all the wrong places.
- Panels, ruching and details like lacing or buckles all take the focus from the skin to the suit. So do blocks of bright colour. It’s best if the detail occurs where your body looks good (i.e. belt buckles if you have a thin waist, ties at the hips if you don’t have cellulite)
- It’s best if the fabric is not too thin – way too many bumps and valleys were visible. Lined pants and padded tops looked much better, however at the other end of the spectrum, wetsuit fabric made me look like a senior citizen who wanted to take up surfing. Metallics were scary-loud on my anaemic flesh and encouraged flashbacks of 1980s blue light discos.
- Polka dots, frills and lace made me look like the proverbial mutton. Bright plain colours, ethnic prints and stripes looked pretty good (horizontal stripes are not nearly as horrendous as I expected, but can be quite flattering as long as they don’t go across the entire width of your body). Florals were dangerous – I needed to make sure I didn’t pick up a print my grandmother would.
- One-piece suits with cutouts look sexy on young girls, but look like you’re trying to hide something if you are older.
In case you’re wondering, I ended up with the orange and navy tops and bottoms as pictured above. No, that’s not me in the image. I’m working on my pallor and will (maybe) post something when I have an incy bit of tan.