Last December, I tried to buy a new swimsuit. I failed. Even the shop at the Four Seasons Hualalai came up short. Now, as one of my suits has popped a veritable rage of threads,and I’m dreaming of The Carneros Inn, I’m going to try again.
Can Women Over 50, or Over 40 For That Matter, Wear A Bikini?
A slight detour. Have you noticed the Internetting of 50+ women in bikinis? Helen Mirren says she will never live this photo down. Allyson almost broke the internet when she posted a very decorous picture. But maybe we’ll get used to it. Jocelyn is a regular French person, from Tish’s description, and here she is in a bikini, no fuss no muss.
Grechen wore one, here, for the first time in her life. Comfortable, happy. So. yes, bikinis for anyone who wants them.
While (due to personal cultural discomfort) I do not plan to post a picture of yours truly in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny, I am likely to wear one. After years agonizing over the hint of imperfection in my thighs, I am now OK with belly dimples, rear wrinkles, and the flesh on them thar hills. What the heck. It’s the only body I’ve got and it likes the feeling of sun on skin.
Back to the practical. The key thing is to know your requirements.
Before You Find A Bathing Suit You Have To Figure Out What You Want. For Me, That Means:
- Modern, with an edge of fashion. Unfortunately, this rules out wonderful options like Land’s End and Athleta.
- No tie fasteners. I don’t plan to untie my bathing suit unless it’s coming off, and I don’t want the suit itself to decide when that will happen.
- Revealing decolletage, it’s all good.
- No underwires. They hurt.
- Hey! You bikinis! I’ve already decided to bare my aging belly. So, be a real bikini and let the sun touch as much of my skin as possible. No sleeves, no ruffles, no strap-happy structures.
- However there’s no need for the world or the sun to see the actual cheeks of my rear end. Understood?
- No neon (I’m too pale), no black (I’m too pale).
- No crystals, no crab prints, no cheezburgers, no feathers. Yes, those appear to be real suits.
- And I’m willing to spend money to find a suit I really, really like. Living in California, with a proclivity for vacations in Hawaii, it’s reasonable.
Bikini, or one-piece, either way, this time I tried Shopbop. They support login with Amazon Prime, free shipping and returns, etc. I ordered four options, two one-piece, two bikinis.
The Proenza Schouler One-Piece (similar) $325 reduced to $227,
Sigh. None of them worked. But I did uncover more requirements.
- One pieces must have waist detail, or ruching somewhere. Loved the Zimmerman one-piece print, but it turned me into a blobby rectangle.
- I like patterns with a named reference – plaid, toile, Keith Haring – as opposed to the abstract and wallpaperesque.
- Triangle bikinis cups must sit in the exactly right spot, or you have to be able to move them. Not a whole lotta room for error.
- Pale people do better in bright white than off-white.
And I ordered again, this time from Net-a-porter, the Lisa Marie Fernandez Jasmine Stretch Terry, $345.
You can’t tell from the front view, but it’s too “cheeky” by half. Nope.
Why Is Bathing Suit Shopping So Hard For So Many?
Bathing suit shopping is so difficult because:
- It’s tough to develop any expertise around infrequent activities.
- Inventory in stores is seasonal (J. Crew doesn’t even have their suits in-store where I live) so if you miss the stocked window, you’ll be picking through mismatched and damaged returns.
- Department store inventory is aimed at distinct demographic segments – you’re either a teenager or you appreciate serviceable vs. fashionable suits. I fully support your right to this sentiment.
- Bad lighting and unyielding spandex, on top of decades of Photoshopped commercial images of our bodies, taint the try-on experience.
- All of the above means we never get a chance to understand whether we’re doomed to settle or we just haven’t found the right brand/shape/print/color/suit yet.
You owe no particular swimming costume to society. But if you swim, and you like fashion, and you want your suit to, well, suit you, I highly recommend the bulk online ordering method. That, along with home mirrors, gives us the best chance at finding our Platonic ideal.
I was successful, in the end. Both Steven Alan and J. Crew offer bikinis from Araks. J.Crew sold out, Steven Alan had only one style, I went to the source. I’ll be wearing the Yanelis top, in the Fuchsia Engine Combo, $195.
and the Enil bottom, in Fuchsia. $105.
If you’re interested in the line, I wear a Large top, and a Small bottom. This Horace top offers more support, I’m thinking I’ll order that one in blue and black, if it’s available when I’m next in the market. They make one-pieces too. (BTW, I really like this inexpensive ruched one-piece from J.Crew. In navy.)
If you have similar tastes, here are a few more brands and retailers who offer modern, lightweight, and modest-enough swim suits.
- Nu Swim
- Charmosa (This last is a small local indie designer, from Brazil. Her suits have ties, sequins even, but one of her bikinis has lasted me, fitting all the while, for >10 years.)
See you poolside. I probably will be eating a burger, probably won’t be wearing its commemorative print.
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