Ed. Note: Oooooh, I feel the pain. . . Last week new friends invited us to a dinner party and tacked on an energetic kicker to the invitation: “Don’t forget your maillot! And, don’t worry, even if it continues to be cold outside, the pool is heated!
My first thought was how could I manoeuvre a cover-up half-way into the pool, slide in and ever so adroitly whip the pareo off my body and sail it out to the side of the pool before it hit the warm water of the pool. (Truly, I think of things like this. Deep into the night.)
Below you will see that I (we?) are not alone and anything written by my great pal D.A. is always a little bijou. Please visit her often chez elle, you’ll always be glad you did.
It’s that time of year again. The sun is coming out. The beach beckons, if not an afternoon by the pool now and then with friends. And you know what that means. Come on now. Must I spell it out?
Would all those who loathe bathing suit shopping please raise their hands? Would anyone else like a return to the suit styles Marilyn Monroe might have worn, with a touch of shape-wear magic or other bandeau action? And could we add a nice three quarter length sleeve as well?
I never had one. Not at 20 or 30 before kids and stretch marks, and certainly not after. Real life can’t be Photoshopped as easily as the images in our favorite magazines, and nor should it be. Haven’t we earned our imperfections? Don’t they tell our stories? Aren’t we over our body obsessions? No? Not quite yet?
Much as I see improvement in my own body image, the very thought of slipping into a bathing suit is enough to send me reeling and regressing… or running for a nice tall drink, which isn’t a bad idea come to think of it: One peppery Bloody Mary, please, heavy on the celery.
Of course, you might prefer a blender in order to create a fruitier (and summery) concoction while contemplating the shortest route to the highest SPF product within reach, which you will generously slather on your skin while covering up your modesty – and everything else.
But seriously. Bathing suits pour nous – lesfemmes d’un certain age? What’s more traumatic – wearing them or shopping for them?
Surprisingly, I have been to the beach in the past few years – not often and certainly not to bake! But to listen to the waves, to enjoy the benefits of (protected) sunlight and heat, to experience the luxurious sensation of unwinding that comes along with all of it – a rarity for many of us.
But the hunt for what to wear remains an abysmal process, usually terminating in dragging out the now 12-year old suit with the stretched straps and frayed edges. This occurs following the traumatic experience of wandering half a dozen stores in pursuit of an alternative, trying on dozens of horrendous soul-depleting fabric-covered support systems and sacks, despite the two piece options that now abound and are not bikinis.
Ah yes. There are some pricey one-piece options with designer labels, but nothing to deal with the upper arms or thighs. (And why don’t we inhabit a planet where crèpe is solely a tasty treat filled with your favorite confiture, rather than an adjective applicable to one’s skin?)
|Once we find the perfect swim shorts, the next step is the search for the most flattering coordinated top. (No one ever said the process wasn’t a challenge.)|
Thank goodness for the new swimming shorts that are cuter than I realized and allow for the reality of one’s top to be of dramatically different dimensions than one’s bottom, and that, regardless of the stature of one’s frame.
Is it time for another show of hands? All those who have ever tried to buy a one piece when you don’t fall into the “norm” of a proportional body – please speak up! We may be talking post-pregnancy pounds that stuck around until Junior headed to college, or the menopausal middle, or simply the cup-runneth-over rack on a Lilliputian frame.
Yes, yes, yes, je sais. For all you linguistic sticklers, I know that “gorge” is also one’s general regions of décolletage, but what adult woman looks good in these swimwear options? What woman doesn’t feel all her hard-won confidence oozing away after an hour of misery among the racks of maillots?
Fortunately, on a recent jaunt to a watery shore, I was able to slip into my old “standby” that dates back to the dawn of the millennium. However, that was after two hours of a failed mission to find something new, followed by inevitable depression.
I’d like to say that I’m generally a woman with a reasonable amount of confidence, able to “work it” – whatever “it” may be. But it’s hard to rock a look you don’t feel comfortable in, much less one that doesn’t give assorted locations the necessary coverage or engineering required.
So I find myself returning to the basics of style that I long ago mastered, like body shape and proportion, and still stymied when trying to find a suit. And what frustrates me most is that I know what will show me to my advantage, but it’s virtually impossible to find despite the two piece separates now available.
|A pareo could one’s cover-up choice, but they’re not the only options out there.|
Thankfully, like most women who find themselves in a bathing suit situation, I know how to drape over the droop, and how to distract with charm, wit, conversation… and great accessories.
On that note, may I mention that you can never go wrong with a pair of Zebra spikes that coordinate nicely with a Zebra beach bag? (I did indeed bring heels to the beach. Zèbre. And that’s my bag, too.)
While heels are decidedly dreadful for walking in the sand, they’re excellent for a laugh. Do be sure to pour out aforementioned sand if you plan to don the same footwear later for drinks, as you’re prettily parked beneath a colorful and large umbrella – well shaded, still slathered, and yes – returning to a self-assured “you” once in more comfortable attire.
|Oh, yes (!) vertical stripes.|
|Classic, easy to wear, dare we say, “safe”?|
|This is fun don’t you think?|
As for those who are confronting bathing suit shopping at present, here are my only tips – besides alcohol, accessories, creams, cover-ups… and a lower gravity planet.
- Good support for the amply endowed woman is a must. Halter tops generally don’t cut it.
- Whatever fine feature you have – show it off! (Great calves, beautiful shoulders and collar bones, your smile.)
|How can we ever forget out beloved Helen Mirren in her modest bikini?|
- The two piece options now offer more possibilities for top-bottom disparities most of us consider normal.
- Remember that growing older is a natural process, that you are a great woman, and anyone worth his or her salt who cares about you won’t give a damn how you look in a bathing suit!
And that’s all she wrote. Except…
Personally, I consider bathing suit shopping right up there with Ye Olde Horrible Spring Cleaning and visiting the periodontist, though I confess that putting my toes in the ocean is heavenly. But if you have any secrets or suggestions to the swim suit conundrum you’d like to share, I’d love to hear – preferred designers, style solutions, sources – or for that matter, how you psych yourself up to go through the shopping process.
After all, who wouldn’t like to imagine herself a bathing beauty, or at least more à l’aise at the beach or pool?
© D. A. Wolf