Sunday 23 October 2016

Swim perfect: we are standing near-naked for all to see - surely we want to look our best?

Constance Harris

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Swimsuit, €198, Miraclesuit
Swimsuit, €198, Miraclesuit

Why it is that Irish women will treat themselves to lovely swimwear for a holiday abroad, but rarely do so when it comes to swimming in their local pool?

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The principle is the same as when we are on holiday - we are standing near-naked for all to see - surely we want to look our best?

I met with the new lingerie and swimwear buyer at Arnotts, Rachelle Hanley, who is as fanatical about swimwear as I have become. We intended to chat about holiday garb, what's in, what's not - but quickly, our conversation went to quality and fit.

"You can buy pieces on the high street, but they won't last. They won't hold their shape and colour as well as premium brands do," Rachelle says. "Premium swim brands will use Lycra, and special fabrics that have UV protection. They test their fabrics extensively to make sure they are right. Bright colours tend to be unstable in the sun, but when you buy premium brands, the colours will last.

"Gottex's fabrication, for instance, doesn't absorb as much moisture, so when you get out of the water, you won't need to wring out your swimsuit, or create a dripping pool at your feet."

I have to admit I am one of those people who gets morto when water keeps dripping down from my swimsuit.

"The thing is, when you are on holiday, you want to look your best. To do that, you should get fitted for your swimwear," Rachelle advises. "When you wear a well-fitted swimsuit, it gives you confidence, you stand taller and you feel better about yourself. It is also more comfortable."

Rachelle explains that swimwear sizing is different from lingerie.

"You can't just pick up the same size as you would wear in lingerie. You need to be fitted before you buy because, due to the technicalities of swim fabrics, it behaves differently from lingerie," Rachelle explains. "We had a lady in yesterday, who in lingerie was one size, but because the swimwear fabrication and fit was different, she had to go up on the back and smaller in the cup. That is why fitting is essential."

I notice from Arnotts' swim floor that though there are bikinis, swimsuits are popular across all brands, from Calvin Klein to Seafolly. Some, such as the excellent Miraclesuit and Fantasie, have shapewear built into them, so they sculpt the body flatteringly. Fantasie and Panache do plus-sizes, Huit goes up to 36D in a cup size, and Anita up to a 34G.

Trends-wise, there is an exotic floral theme, and 'Riviera', which consists of classic styling in navy, red and white combinations. The 1990s is also a key trend in swimwear. Think of supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington sporting a simple swimsuit, perfect skin, perfect hair.

Oh to be . . . I wish.

Photography by  Alex Hutchinson

Styling by Courtney Smith

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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