A bikini purchase only has to work for the lifespan of your holiday -- most of us never wear them beyond that. But a swimsuit does it all, from holiday lounging to serious swimming, to the local swimming pool and normal life.
I don't believe in spending a lot on a bikini. Each summer I buy the fad/trend piece, and after the holiday I tend to forget about it. But I do invest in a fabulous swimsuit.
This summer really has been the year of the one-piece. Good quality and strong design could be found at all price points and in some surprising stockists. Monsoon, for instance, had a super-flattering one-piece in chocolate, while Accessorize's black-and-white plunge offering was pure glam.
Arnotts are the exclusive stockists of Miraclesuit and Miraclebody jeans: fabulous support-wear which, in my opinion, is way more flattering and comfortable than many of the other brands out there. This year I discovered Miraclesuit's swimwear range. The support-wear technology and the fabulous cut make this capsule collection of swimwear a must for those size 14s and upwards who love their curves, but would like a more defined shape. Yes, the swimsuits are about €170, but they will give you many years of wear.
Gottex is another brand worth investing in. Gottex is an old name in swimwear, but it is one of the best.
I have learnt you can never judge a swimsuit by its hanger appeal. It is best to listen to the sales assistant if they tell you a particular swimsuit will look good on. When it comes to prints and fabrics, swimsuit rules are completely different from those of mainstream fashion. I learnt this from Dashiki in Blackrock when they talked me into a Gottex swimsuit I thought looked positively hideous on the hanger and so 'not me', and yet, once on, it transformed my curvy figure. It subsequently has earned me lots of compliments from both men and women.
If I could buy as much swimwear as I want, and not just one good investment piece, I would snap up a piece or two from Jets at Brown Thomas. But, if price is an issue for you, remember Debenhams' wonderful designer-swimwear department where cool, cult brand Melissa Odabash has now joined the ranks of Julien Macdonald and Matthew Williamson.
No one can compete with a nubile young body in a bikini, but a woman, be she big or small, dressed in a sculpted, eye-catching one-piece makes a dramatic visual impression. A one-piece has old-school Hollywood sex appeal. It screams confidence and sexual power, and it's as attractive as fashion can be.