An Ode to Swimwear: Our delightful, daring, discouraging, doubtful, demeaning, altogether baffling relationship with the “swimsuit.” I equate swimwear to a first date – it’s pretty to look at, amazing to daydream about, but when the time comes actually to do the darn thing and wear it… it can be intimidating, humbling, and an all-together letdown. But just as a first date must happen to have a second one, whether we like it or not, a swimsuit must be purchased if we are heading to the beach.
I feel like we’re so hard on our bodies to begin with, throw in a beach vacation, and the self-criticism can dial-up to a ten fast. We live in a society where photo apps and airbrushing has taken the place of a true “candid,” making it hard for us to have realistic expectations when it comes to our own bodies. Trust me – the models also wish their bodies looked like they do on the magazine covers, and no one’s posting an unedited bikini pic these days. Add the beautiful, but sometimes challenging things that come with aging, childbirth, etc. and it can feel like we’re undergoing an all day, every day physical assault. As far as swimwear goes, the positive to our current culture is that we have been gifted oodles of talented designers who have come up with, what feels like, millions of different choices for millions of different bodies and preferences. From cuts to colors to designs – we have options, ladies. So, let’s talk through a few styles that can take you from the kids’ pool to the beach to the (gasp) adult-only cabana, and feeling great all day long.
As I have gotten older, I have subconsciously gravitated toward a one-piece. I am not sure whether it’s a comfort thing or the fact I am always chasing my little boy around the pool, but I have more of those lined up in my swimsuit drawer than tiny sassy bikinis these days. No longer the “Ugly Mom Suit” it used to be, a one-piece works for all body types in a classy and chic way. I love the high-cut suits that will show off your curves and effortlessly elongate your legs (yessss). The benefit of a smaller chest – you can choose a one-piece that has a lower cut top or even some kind of zip-up front. Want to show off your arms and back? Find a one-piece with a lower cut back, cap sleeve, or even halter top. The options are endless, and the styles are fun.
Ok, so I lied. I have several bikinis too. It is very seldom that I wear them. Still, I have a pretty amazing collection varying from Alessandra Rich black sequin string bikini to a sporty, practical Dolce & Gabbana tank and boy short to a stretchy, solid-colored Hunza G two-piece. For me, bikinis have set themselves up as my go-to for specific occasions. If I want a little more coverage, but still want some sun on a family trip, I tend toward the more conservative bikini. If I am on a vacay with my husband and feeling a little more daring, I will pull out something I may not normally wear to the kid pool, and yes, that may mean a smaller “Brazilian” cut bottom or a triangle top. I have learned over time that every bikini is not meant for me – but trying on and playing with styles is half (okay, maybe a third) of the fun!
You’ll want to try on several styles to see what feels the best for you, but here are a few general pointers followed by my tips on how to protect your skin in the summer sun.
Petite figures and those of us with little to no hips can work a boy short or thicker sided bottom really well.
If you want to cover your hips and stomach, trend toward a suit with higher cut bottoms that can give coverage where needed.
Smaller chest? Try a more exciting cut top or a suit with some padding that can take you away from looking too young.
If you are well endowed in the chest area, you can be free as a bird with your choices, but I’d recommend looking for coverage and lift in styles you love.
It drives me crazy when people talk about swimwear without mentioning sunscreen. After all, you can’t feel comfortable in your own skin…if you’re skin flat out feels uncomfortable from the slew of damage all that sun exposure wearing a swimsuit will bring. So to go with your new suit, I’ve compiled a list of favorite sunscreens to check out and tips on how to wear it.