The real life rules for buying a swimsuit
I have a sorry number of gorgeous, accomplished thirty-something girlfriends who no longer “do” swimming in public.
The backyard pool of a very close friend (preferably one who’s no oil painting) is a maybe, but only on a very hot day, with lots of encouragement and a glass of champagne.
It’s sad. Swimming is one of life’s great pleasures. But somewhere between the ages of 0 and 40 we have this tendency to morph from beach-loving babes to ladies (mothers in many cases) who feel totally inadequate about our imperfect bodies. As for swimsuit shopping, mention it at your peril.
I quizzed a few girlfriends on how they felt about buying bathers recently and got these responses among others:
“Simple, hate it. I put if off for as long as possible, then when I have to go, I go with no budget and would quite happily pay more than I would for other garments, if the bathers pushed me up and held me in, in the right places.” – Rachel
“I hate bathers shopping! Fortunately I don’t go swimming as often as I used to - so they last longer.” – Jemille
“I have had my bathers longer than I have had my husband (that’s over 5 years). I just can’t quite bring myself to go bathers shopping even though I know I need to. I want to buy a two- piece, but a tankini not a bikini. With boyleg bottoms. Sigh. It’s very difficult. Maybe there is a niche market out there for bathers for ‘modest’ ladies. But not with those little frilly skirt things.” – Claire
“If you think buying a pair of bathers is confronting, try buying a wetsuit in a surfshop staffed by cool young dudes!” – Mary
Of course it doesn’t help that many retailers provide ‘’inspirational’’ catalogues and posters of perfect young models in their swimsuits around their counters and changerooms.
It also doesn’t help that the glossy magazines provide the same blindingly obvious pieces of advice for finding your perfect pair of bathers year in, year out, alongside more pictures of similarly dazzling bikini girls. These include:
- Ensure you shave/wax your legs and bikini line before heading to the stores (well, der);
- Apply a fake tan the night before you go shopping (sure, if you’re a fake tan person ... not everyone looks good in orange);
- Look for two-piece halterneck styles if you’re big chested (OK, this will address the boobs issue, but not the corresponding wobbly tum);
- Look for one-pieces if you’re self-conscious about your mid-section (can’t fault this one, even if it’s a bit obvious); and
- Create curves by looking for styles with details such as frills and raunching (OK again ... but are ruffles really such a great option for anyone over 25?).
None of this really cuts the mustard when you’re confronted with yourself still pasty from winter, with more than enough curves and a few stray hairs in a bright changeroom mirror.
I’d therefore like to offer some alternative tips for over 30s for trying on or wearing bathers:
- Remember that all grown women have cellulite, regardless of size (I’m reliably told this by someone who’s done a lot of life drawing);
- Teen and 20-something boys are no longer going to wolf whistle you on the beach. Hell, men your own age probably won’t look at you twice – but neither will they run screaming from the foreshore.
- Your wobbly tummy and imperfect thighs are a delight to your friends. (OK, I shouldn’t say this but it’s good to know that your friends are less than perfect and it’s not just you. Nothing makes a girl happier than seeing that her pal’s stacked on a couple of kilos);
- Don’t go bathers shopping on your birthday – this is one from experience;
- Don’t write off two-pieces just because you’re over 30.. or 40…or 70 for that matter ... They feel so much better to swim in than one-pieces. Just invest in a cover-up for when you get out of the water;
- Buy your bathers, go home and have a stiff drink (thanks for that one, mum).
Looking for something on-trend? Westfield stylist Kylie Crabtree says: “Colour is a dominant trend with jewel tones still strong for spring/summer bathers. Frills are carrying over from clothing to swimsuits; perfect for small busted women. Complete your swimwear look for the season teaming bathers with complimentary cover-up options. There are some fabulous kaftans and beach dresses available that will ensure you are looking as hot as possible.”
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