Bairbre Power finds summer's hottest swimwear
The first step on to the beach is always the worst. You worry that your pale legs resemble milk bottles or, worse, that your DIY tan makes you look tangoed – and have you too much flesh on show?
It helps enormously to have swimwear that arms you with confidence and with a cut that flatters.
Shapewear crossed with swimwear is nothing new, but recent advances are so fashion-forward that few would suspect you have a little secret help in achieving an enviable silhouette.
The €105 blue-print one piece is a case in point. We packed lots of Arnotts swimwear and accessories for our shoot in Spain, but this Lise Charmel swimsuit instantly won hearts – not just because of Courtney Smith's retro styling, but also because of the specially patented swimwear knit with smoothing qualities.
Turn the Gottex swimsuits inside out and you'll find a hard-working lining that offers support and control.
The red one-piece has a deep V-front – which is a super- flattering neckline for large-busted gals – and built-in cups that offer support, while its sister one-piece in blue offers super definition but has the kind of interesting, crossover draped neckline that is so flattering for petite, smaller-busted girls.
The attractive bronze metalwork front and back is very on-trend this season. Our continental sisters are big into wearing full slap and jewellery on the beach. However, we are so starved of sunshine that few Irish women want to risk a patchwork tan from wearing jewellery a la plage, so the built-in embellishment will do us fine.
Small-busted girls need not feel exposed on the beach. French brand Lejaby brings all its lingerie skills to its Maison Lejaby Plage range, and the black and red balcony-style top gives a terrific shape. The top resembles a bra with a three-part cup, and the deep centre point gives great support and creates a super shape.
The Sunflair bra intrigues because it is almost a full-cup underwired bra but with a bandeau twist, and the good news is that it is available in bigger cup sizes and backs.
Show off your hard work in achieving a flat tummy with the turned-down bikini bottoms from Gottex; if you need cover up, there is a matching sari.
I'm totally in love with the Art Deco qualities of the 'big pants' bikini from French brand Huit. You can park the Bridget Jones comments now. This will attract as many admiring gazes as the micro bikini, and it channels all the retro styling that is so popular for outerwear.
The fit and fabrication is top class, with an expensive-looking metallic raw edge. The top is super sexy with a great plunge (€75), and the high-waisted pants (€38) are very flattering.
I'm delighted to hear from Arnotts' lingerie and hosiery buyer Emily O'Byrnes that they intend to stock the Huit lingerie range. That's one less thing I need to bring back from French holidays.
All clothes and accessories from Arnotts, Henry Street
Photographer: Daniel Holfeld, danielholfeld.com
Stylist: Courtney Smith, courtneysmith.ie
Hair stylist: Darren Lacken, creative director, House of
Make-up artist: Roy Wong, roywong.ie
Production manager: Justin Robert.
The crew flew with Aer Lingus direct to Barcelona. For rates, see aerlingus.com