Just too cool for the pool

With sun-drenched poolsides and beaches in mind, this is the time to find the swimwear vital for a va-va-voom vacation


1960s rainbow print bikini, £7, Primark

1960s rainbow print bikini, £7, Primark

This is a determinedly optimistic fashion department, so we are going to assume that you will reach Nice, Netanya, Nevis or whichever sunny holiday destination you are planning to visit this summer, despite the annoyingly persistent disruption caused by volcanic ash.

This is also a determinedly honest fashion department, so I am going to admit that trends in swimwear are rather different to trends in other kinds of apparel. That doesn’t mean that fashion can be ignored for beach or pool, just that, rather than changing dramatically each season, swimwear evolves gently, picking up mainstream trends as it rolls along.

Retro styling runs strongly through all the most desirable swimwear for summer, from the draping, skirt fronts and sweetheart necklines of the 1950s to the teeny triangles, crochet and tie side bottoms of the 60s and 70s. Also in the mix are the plunging necklines and high-cut legs of the 1980s, and the monochrome, bandeaux and asymmetric one-shoulder shapes of the 90s — a trend which, according to Rigby & Peller swimwear buyer Mary McLeod, works particularly well “as it draws attention to shoulders and can enhance the bust with discreet support”.

In swimwear, too, a key factor should always be the shape that works best for your body. The right cut can streamline, push and pull in all the right places, creating the illusion of a leaner, longer body and a more defined bust. Equally, the wrong cut can shorten legs and create bumps where you don’t have them.

Best for shaping

The Freya “Supernova” one-piece, with high-cut leg and bandeau top, is great for emphasising waistline; Fantasie’s Zante halter suit with control lining gives great uplift and holds in the tummy; and Fantasie’s Atlanta full-cup bikini, Barcelona halter or Corsica bandeau and full-cup — all with a variety of bikini bottoms — shape and support the bust for the well endowed (at Pretty Things Cockfosters and Buckhurst Hill or www.eveden.com). Moontide “Nip Tuck” range, at Fenwick Brent Cross, uses a combination of moulded cup fittings (B to F cup) and an inner layer of power mesh to shape, trim and streamline. Miraclesuit figure-enhancing swimwear, meanwhile, has three times more spandex than an average swimsuit, providing triple the holding power and claiming to make you look 10lb lighter (Fenwick, W1). Also check out Rigby & Peller, Pretty Things (Cockfosters and Buckhurst Hill) and Bhs Instant Beach Body collection, which uses “tummy control” technology, from £30. Speedo Sculpture Body Shaping swimwear solves specific figure problems in the hips, tummy and bust area and comes in black, navy and pink, from £99 at Fenwick, Brent Cross.

Most on-trend/achingly gorgeous

For that wow-factor, check out the Emilio Pucci neoprene zig-zag swimsuit (at www.Net-a-Porter.com) or the Gottex body-con one-piece with stitched “bra” which alludes to the underwear-as-outerwear trend, at Rigby & Peller. For the retro look, Browns does an 80s hot pink plunge-neck Azzuro swimsuit. Equally stand-out is the new New Brazilian brand Ondademar at Fenwick, W1, which has an Aztec patchwork and animal print bikini top at £89 (with matching bottoms £69). M&Co does a smart one-shoulder swimsuit at £22.50; Tomas Maier has a ruched, draped, retro-inspired one-piece in nude; and George at Asda offers a Marilyn Monroe-inspired, skirt-front halter at £12.

If you want to source that retro look from further back, John Lewis does a 60s-inspired halterneck bikini with tie-side bottoms, £38; Primark has come up with a 60s-inspired halter, also with tie-side bottoms, in rainbow print, £7.

For something that will mark you out on the Riviera, try on a sweetheart-neck strapless one-piece in white by Gottex, £125 at Rigby & Peller; or the Louis Feraud black pinstripe one-piece, £165, at Fenwick, Brent Cross.

Dare to bare? Then consider the teeny-tiny Murmure bikini in aubergine by Nina Ricci (for those with the BMI of a moth). For the designerati, the black one-piece with graphic cut-outs by Australian brand Zimmerman at Rigby & Peller (above right) is gorgeous, although you’ll need to watch out for weird tan lines. Also worth salivating over are Melissa Odabash’s stunning cream and gold one-piece — in reality, a bikini joined down the side (at www.Net-a-Porter.com), and the Heidi Klein scoop-neck, metallic bikini with peach bows (at www.matchesfashion.com).

Last updated: 2:49pm, May 21 2010