My family (hubby and two boys) and I were lucky to have a last-minute vacation in Mexico last month. This not only provided the opportunity for some long overdue R and R, but for me to get familiar with the swimwear styles for Summer 2008 that work for real women.
First, let me say that the women of world are doing a great job embracing their natural beauty on the beach. There were women of all sizes and all ages in terrific two pieces, tankinis and wondrous one pieces. Proof that the key to looking sensational in the surf is not the perfect body, but getting a fabulous fit, selecting the style that suits your body type and being courageous with colour.
Fit is fundamental – Just as with underwear, selecting the correct size in swimwear is essential. Take as much care selecting a bikini or tankini top as you would a bra. Wear a top that’s too big or too small and you’ll be at high risk of toppling out. Often, women select the correct size and all that’s needed is a little strap adjustment (up or down) to keep everything in the right location. Similarly, select bathing suit bottoms that are too large or small and you’ll be tugging away all day (also either up or down!) I love mix and match separates and have bought tops and bottoms with a difference of two sizes to get the right fit for me – tip: take a size up and down, as well as your regular size when trying on swimwear and ignore the number on the label, select the most flattering fit. This bandeau top is from The Gap, mix n’ match
nautical pieces are from Baltex and bright onepiece is from Ralph Lauren.
The style that suits – One piece? Two piece? Halter or strapless? The style of swimwear you select to suit your body type can make such a difference to how you both look and feel. You want to be comfortable afterall, as you chase the children, build sandcastles and dive off the dock. Slim silhouettes can wear string bikinis (like this black classic below from The Gap) or lightly padded tops. Larger busts need the support of an underwire or more substantial halter, such as the purple version below from The Gap. When it comes to bottoms, remember boy shorts (like the black and white Baltex above) can visually shorten legs and are best suited to those with long limbs. Medium hip height is universally flattering (check out the red Point Zero tankini), and swimskirts are no longer your mother’s version, but are much more sporty and fabulous for those who prefer to stay a little more covered up. This blue beauty is from Baltex.
Colour confidential – Something that really strcuk me on the beach in Mexico is how colour can make or break the look of swimwear. Maybe it was the effect of the tropical sun, but I think there are some useful observations to share. First, bold bright colours are beautiful on the beach – take your choice red, blue, pink, green and one of the most universally flattering, turquoise blue. More muted tones such as beige, brown and even this season’s metallics can meld with the skin and create a bland appearance and, worse, give the impression that you’re naked at fist glance. Both black and white (and make sure it’s good quality white with a substantial lining to avoid transparency when wet) look best with tanned skin tones. Use colour and pattern to highlight and disguise. Dark colours to slim and lighter colours to enhance. All over patterns keep the eye moving and avoid focus on any particular area. Personally, I would have switched the colour/pattern of the tankini on the model below. The horizontal stripes highlight her larger upper body just a little too much. The white Ralph Lauren bkini and skirt is a classic with a tan.
Yes, swimwear shopping is a chore. A kid-free expedition is a must and allow at least a couple of hours to try on. Before our recent vacation, I spent the two hours after I’d dropped my youngest off at a birthday party located close to a swimwear boutique, in that store’s changing rooms, patiently trying on tops and bottoms in various styles and colours. Hard work, but worth it – I did find that perfect suit that helped me feel good on my holiday, and hey, holidays are all too short to worry about if what you’re wearing works. So if you haven’t already, invest a little time in your beach, cottage or poolside pieces to help your Summer go swimmingly.
Katie is host of the urbanmoms.ca Style File. As a public relations professional and a student of style and design, she has helped many retail and fashion clients promote their brands. She is mom to two boys (the best anti-shopping devices on the market) and now indulges her love of fashion by conducting wardrobe consultations, personal shopping expeditions and by participating in media interviews, providing advice on everything from wardrobe must-haves to accessories and footwear. Katie firmly believes that high style does not have come with a high price tag and her shopping philosophy is based on saving both time and money.
For more style musings, visit Katie at Real Canadian Style www.realcanadianstyle.blogspot.com