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Friday, 2 September 2011

The Great Swimming Costume Swindle

I hardly ever go swimming, rarely sunbathe, so my requirement for swimwear, or a swimming costume as I can’t help but call it, is minimal.  However, for reasons too complicated to go into, I have recently returned from the kind of holiday where such a garment was the principal requirement for most of the day, and it caused me to ponder how ghastly the whole business is.

There are three options for women: all in one, a bikini, and what has come to be known as a tankini. 

The one piece can be flattering, if you choose the right cut for your body shape, and the more you spend on it, the nicer it will be.  I don't have personal experience to verify this conjecture having only shopped at M&S, but it is the way for most things.  Whilst  there is plenty of room for improvement in M&S's cut, fabric and colour range, I have to hand it to them for fit since they have the sense to make both standard and long. For people like me, whom Trinny describes as having short legs but I prefer to think of as a long back, this is wonderful.  How come this isn't the norm?

So, the one piece.  Relatively flattering, and undeniably comfortable in respect of its core function - actual swimming.  But, rather in the way that a seal is graceful in water and clumsy on land, its impracticality as a piece of mainstream clothing is hideous.  Going to the loo, in a word, is a disaster.  The costume must be peeled off in its entirety, leaving one to do one's business completely in the buff before wriggling it back on, tugging and stretching the damp fabric into place over a clammy torso.  If you happen to have put clothes on top of your one piece, it’s worse.  Every single item has to be removed before you can relieve yourself.  There might be hook on the door of the cubicle.  There might not.

The bikini, then, solves these problems.  Indeed, but it raises others. I don’t want that much flesh exposed, not when I’m outside, with other people.  I’d feel the same even if I didn’t have a foot long scar down my middle which makes me look like a pyjama case.  On top of that, my skin is pale, it’s just more burning to worry about.

The obvious answer, as I have been advised many times in shops, is the tankini - a longer top, with pants or shorts. This is truly a hideous garment, and my informal study of women at the pool demonstrated that not a single woman can carry it off. The tops are too short, flaring out a little, and ending calamitously an inch or two higher than the top of the pants, offering just enough space for the flappiest part of the tummy to hang below.  Convenient for toileting, perhaps, but in every other respect, only grim.

The answer is easy, but I can't find it anywhere.  I want pants, or shorts, either is fine, and then a long stretchy vest.  The vest can have a built in bra, or even underwire for those that like it, but the body of it must fit tightly, like a one piece, and reach to whatever length is desired.  Myself, I'd like it to top thigh, just over my bum.  Give it to me in something dark and mostly plain, perhaps spots or stripes, definitely no geraniums. 

It would look a bit like this:

Rocket science?  Not really.

Please someone. 


  1. You can have a wee in a swimsuit (well not iN it, that wouldn't be right..). You just hitch it sideways. I use same method when having a pee behind a tree on a picnic.
    Love your swimwear design though - that sounds perfect.

  2. Well, have you thought about approaching the swimwear designers? I agree with your ideas for the most part, though in my case, I wouldn't be seen in anything that didn't cover me from top to bottom. This conjures up horrible images of kaftan type coverings in thin cottons. So I would just avoid that type of holiday completely. Nevertheless, I think you're on to something here, and should start your new business project immediately, ready for next summer. In fact your design is very 'Mad Men' vintage, so you may have missed the boat here.