Beach belles

The sun is splitting the rocks. Above you is an azure sky and stretching ahead is an endless golden sandy beach.

It’s summer and you are on holiday, maybe in the Bahamas or Belmullet, and you are enjoying every minute of it.

All around you are other beach belles dressed in the season’s hottest swimwear. Colour is king right now and women are sporting the brightest shades on the beach and at the pool.

Patricia Lambert, the swimwear buyer at Anthony Ryan’s department store, says strapless bikinis are very popular at the minute. Tankinis, which combine a tank top and bikini bottom, are also winners.

“We find that strapless and halter neck swimwear is particularly popular,” she says. “The reason for this is that they are very versatile and can be worn with shorts on the beach.”

Prints, especially small floral styles, are all the rage. Gingham is cropping up a lot as well as polka dots. Red and white check is another winning combination. The sailor look is always in vogue, also. The main colours are pink, red and turquoise, with the perennial black and white evident everywhere too, she outlines.

“The high waisted brief is popular in the bikini this year,” she adds. “This has made a comeback and is a throwback to the 1950s and 1960s.

“The fact that the weather is very good has made a difference to bikini sales. The tankini is going quite well because a lot of women like to cover up their bodies from the sun. It’s also ideal if you want to wear a bikini and have a figure problem. Some swimwear has special control panels for the tummy. These are very popular especially with women aged 50 to 60 years. They are popular with some young women too.

“We start selling bikinis in February for the first holiday goers and we can still be selling them in November. A lot of customers like the cheap and cheerful styles ranging in price from €22.50 to €27.”

She advises women choosing swimwear to take their time and try on several varieties before making their final decision.

“Make sure to try them on. Some may not have hanger appeal but look terrific when they are worn.”

Tips to help you choose

the perfect swimsuit

1. Know your shape. Have you big hips or long legs or do you have weight around your tummy area? Your figure will largely dictate what type of swimwear suits you best as most people will want to choose a bikini or one piece which flatters their shape and plays down any imperfections.

2. One pieces are the ideal cover-ups in terms of disguising figure flaws and providing protection from the sun’s harmful rays. They are always in vogue and look terrific on those with endless legs. They are the right choice for people with apple shapes too because they give the illusion of slimming down the tummy area. Choose a style with vertical stripes to further boost this impression.

3. Garments with ruching, gathers and frills down the front help give a curvier shape. Padded styles will also help in this regard.

4. Women with fuller figures should avoid swimwear with lots of detail, such as ruffling, at the bust because this will make you look heavier.

5. While black and white is always a popular choice for swimwear this colour does not suit everyone. It can make the pale look an even whiter shade of pale, especially if the black is worn close to the face. It may be best to leave this colour combination to the sunkissed who can get away with anything.

6. Colour is big this summer and can be dazzling if worn as the background to a fussy design. Equally, it may be best to only opt for flamboyant looks if you have model proportions and oodles of confidence. Remember some styles are not for the fainthearted.

7. It is a common mistake and most of us have made it at some time - buying a garment that is too small in the faint hope that we will be slimmer and trimmer by the time we get around to wearing it. Sadly, this is not always the case. Be honest when choosing swimwear and remember that trying to pack yourself into something too tight will only make you look bigger.

8.Try not to settle for second best. If the bikini or one piece you are tempted to buy (because you are tired or have enough of elbow jostling crowds ) is not quite right then walk away. Even if it is on sale it is not the bargain buy of the year unless it fits well. The cut of the garment can make or break the style so it is worth shopping around and only parting with your hard earned cash when you are sure of your choice.

9. Buy with your lifestyle in mind in addition to your colouring and shape. If you plan to have an active holiday or are seeking swimwear which will take you through a few summers make your purchase with those considerations at the top of your list.

10. Take along a friend when shopping. An honest but kind one, preferably. You may want a second opinion but not an indepth analysis of your figure flaws or a lecture on your close relationship with the cookie jar.

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