Fashion: Beach saviours

Twist front double layer swimsuit, �29, at M&Co.
Twist front double layer swimsuit, �29, at M&Co.
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Finding the right swimwear is never easy. Stephanie Smith has advice on finding what works for you.

The time has come to put away that trusty old swimsuit (or bikini, tankini, monokini) and place your faith in a new one.

That’s easier said than done, of course. Bodies change as we age, and even what suited a year ago might well not work now.

Plus swimwear seems to expand with age too as it loses its stretch. Coming into contact with sea, sand and chlorine, it gets quite a hammering, and no one seems to have invented swimwear that keeps its shape for more than a year, or a season. The colours also fade, especially if you choose something bright and bold.

Tempting as it might be to squeeze yourself into a “shapewear solution” style of swimsuit (especially if you haven’t been able to put in all the diet and toning work you might have planned), do try it on first if you can and also try to imagine how you might feel walking or lying down all day in it, swimming in it and, 
most of all, taking it off when wet. In my experience, the suck-it-all-in inner layer 
seems to vaccuum apply itself to skin when both are wet, leading to undignified and frankly dangerous 
contortions when trying to prise it off.

The other problem with a swimsuit that has an inner stretch layer topped by a thinner covering outer layer is that the gap between fills with air in a hot tub, meaning that you can become buoyed by huge comedy breasts although, to be fair, this does cause so much amusement, I’ve long ceased to regard it as a drawback.

Look out for swimming tees (Lands End does them), which are great for providing coverage while not looking remotely apologetic or dowdy. In fact, they look pretty coolfor all ages, although I can’t help wondering when a pair of long shorts will come to join them and there we are back to the Victorian era.

There are a few general rules when it comes to selecting swimwear for your shape, as follows:

Apple shapes – try a plain top with print bottom, while thick straps will make shoulders look smaller.

Pear shapes – do the opposite, with a plain bottom and pattern top, avoid boy shorts, consider a plunge top.

Top heavy – you need support, so try a sturdy halter neck top half and underwiring. Steer clear of bandeaus but do try boy shorts or frill bottoms to balance proportions.

Long torso – bikinis, tankinis and swim tees will all work better than one-pieces.

Hourglass – don’t bother with mis-matched tops and bottoms as they might ruin your balance.

There’s no substitute for trying on, however, so don’t dismiss anything because of rules.

Mastectomy swimwear is widely available and super-chic – take a look at Betty and Belle, Aboutthegirl.co.uk and Pinkribbonlingerie.co.uk for specialists, but Debenhams and Figleaves also stock ranges.

Finally, don’t forget the swimsuit’s best ally – a pareo.