As you know from your Mad Men studies, the Fifties was the heyday of support wear, corsetry and the hourglass shape. It was also the glory days of the Technicolour aquamusical, with the glorious Esther Williams dazzling us with her fab body and swimming costumes.
As designers and brands are sourcing their inspiration from the past, particularly the figure-sculpting Fifties and the playful Sixties, this season’s swimwear is very strong — and flattering.
In swimwear departments such as that of Arnotts, in Dublin, you can expect to find stunning, figure-flattering maillots with lowcut legs, bodice-framing halternecks, dramatic one-shoulder straps, prints such as polka dots, kitsch illustrations from the past and lush, tropical prints, colour-block pieces and striking jewel embellishment.
The Sixties influence translates into tri-colour combos such as white/red/navy or yellow/white/ black, ditsy or geometric prints, cute button details, mini skirts on suits or on bikini briefs, or boy briefs with hipster belts, A-line, flared, tankinis and frills, frills, frills, spelling F-U-N.
Jane McGann, the lingerie and swimwear buyer for Arnotts, loves to follow strong trends but her emphasis is on shape and fit; she knows how frustrating a bad fit can be for women.
“What we have focused on is choice,” Jane told me. “We want our customers to have their trends — one shoulder, pop colours, prints — without compromising on fit. We have the best of both worlds.”
Arnotts prides itself on carrying a wide variety of cup sizes and, in swimwear, this extends to a H-cup in some brands, such as Panache, Pour Moi, Freya and Fantasie. They also do a care range by Anita catering for post-mastectomy needs. If you are long bodied, Seaspray is for you.
If you feel your body is a bit soft and needs serious support, for fabulous figure-sculpting I highly recommend the Miraclesuit. This season, their styles look plain on the hanger, but they are sensational on. Gottex, too, create unbeatable maillots; the red ‘string’ corset all-in-one on page 32 is only gorgeous. These are pricier pieces, but they will last.
I also loved the Ted Baker range, especially the maillot and the chiffon strapless playsuit.
If all this sounds just a bit too attention-seeking for you, there are striking pieces in black with gold, or in navy and white, described by Jane as “a bit more elegant and sultry, and going back to that Fifties sophistication”.
Bring it on.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL HOLFELD
STYLING BY COURTNEY SMITH
FASHION EDITED BY CONSTANCE HARRIS
Sunday Indo Life Magazine