Where is our summer!? I love getting excited about booking a summer holiday, choosing swimwear, finding a new bikini and getting my summer dresses out! This year I feel we have bypassed spring completely! I still haven't worn a summer dress for any length of time and getting photos for my first summer 2023 beachwear post was quite a challenge! In fact I had a very funny, failed attempt over the early May Day bank holiday weekend which resulted in me running inside in my new bikini just as the heavens opened, it was sunny only moments earlier, I gave up - my daughter thought it was hilarious! But despite the rain on Coronation day, the Big Lunch was the hottest day of the year so far and I did manage to read a book in the garden and get some beachwear photos! I prefer my photos to be 'natural' rather than 'staged', it isn't always possible, but I want my readers to relate to me and know that I really am wearing or using what I recommend.
So swimwear ... this year two new bikinis and a gorgeous beach cover-up have been gifted to me from a fabulous online boutique. Beach Café stocks everything you need for your perfect holiday wardrobe including kaftans, beach dresses, swimsuits, bikinis and amazing accessories like hats, footwear and beach bags, they even have sun protection!
This is a gifted blog post.
Buying swimwear, online or in-store?
Beach Café have an extensive selection of beachwear from the best swimwear designers, my favourites are Melissa Odabash, Seafolly and Vix Swimwear, as well as Satlee and Sun Bum (for suncare) and the coolest sliders in the best colours from Freedom Moses. Beach Café want to help you find your perfect fit and style and offer a personalised shopping service to assist you planning your holiday wardrobe. You can get in touch with a style advisor via their easy chat box!
Do you prefer to buy swimwear online or in-store? I admit to some pretty stressful experiences in-store, the fitting room lighting can be brutal and the shock of seeing every lump and bump under the electric lights was nearly enough to put me off ever going near a bikini again!
Trying on at home gives me the freedom to relax a little, take my time and see myself in a more natural light. But you do need to accept that there may be an extra trip to the post office to do an exchange if the sizing isn't right first time (at Beach Café delivery is free over £150 and they offer free returns in the UK and EU).
I would recommend loading the credit card up and ordering a variety of sizes and styles, just make sure you keep the plastic gusset protection in place and preferably try on with some small briefs.
Above: the Miami Bikini in Lime from Melissa Odabash, why I love it ... vibrant, ribbed and a beautiful fit, I love the gold ring detail on the bikini top, and the extra gold finishing on the ties, a string side means I can adjust to suit me and I love the padding on the top that can be removed if preferred. This is a skimpier style! I am wearing it with the Jenny Dress from Miss June, also from Beach Café, it is just stunning, with gorgeous embellishment and a flowing fit for easy beach to bar dressing! My bag is from Pia Rossini and my sandals are from Marks & Spencer (all details below).
Swimwear buying tips!
So what should we consider when choosing swimwear?
Read on for my guide on how to choose the perfect swimwear for your needs, your figure and your budget!
First embrace confidence! I really do believe that there is a bikini style for everyone and that if you get the right advice and find the perfect fit, there is no reason why we cannot all wear a bikini if that is what we choose.
So many of us suffer from low body-confidence and self-esteem and worry for weeks before a holiday, often dieting and stressing about getting a 'bikini body' and yet when we arrive - and embrace the sun, the sea, the holiday atmosphere - all the worry disappears and believe me no one is looking at you, they are only worrying about themselves!
I am finally accepting of my weight, yes losing a few extra pounds would be lovely, but I am not prepared to sacrifice the lifestyle I enjoy - and I am a foodie and wine-lover!
Take a tip from the tanned, mediterranean women, they all wear teeny tiny bikinis to the beach, regardless of age or size. They are happy to sunbathe, splash in the sea and have fun with their children and grandchildren. They are not at all bothered by what anyone else thinks! Let go of the apprehension and embrace a more confident perspective. Life really is too short not to wear the bikini if you want to! Is there any better feeling of freedom than sun on our skin and swimming in the warm, azure blue sea?
Bikini or swimsuit?
My mum always wore a bikini, she was from the glamorous 60s, but she never gave up her two piece! On the beach or in the garden, it never phased her and she always looked amazing. My love affair with the bikini probably began when I was still a baby and my trapeze artist, circus performer, aunt sent me a silver lamé bikini, I need to find the photo! I did go through a bit of a confidence crisis in my late teens/early 20s and then again immediately post babies but I soon got over it! I love the feeling of freedom a bikini gives me, I hate being trussed up in a wet swimsuit!
If you are like me and love nothing better than two weeks on a sun lounger with a good book, only getting up to cool off in the pool or go to the poolside bar for a chilled glass of wine and a light lunch then you might agree that a bikini is best for sunbathing and that a tanned tummy looks so much better than a white one!
Plus who wants to be bothered about pulling down a wet swimsuit to go to the toilet? Bikinis are so much easier! And I want to come back from my two weeks away with an (almost) all over tan, not brown legs, brown arms and a white tummy!
But I am also very aware that the perfect swimsuit can look amazing too, find the right one for your body type and a swimsuit really is absolutely stunning, super classy and chic and is fantastic if you love to swim in the sea or complete a few lengths of the pool! A swimsuit can offer a bit more support, give good coverage and have a slimming effect.
And the best advice - buy your swimwear when you have a tan! Either on holiday, post holiday or fake it! I've linked my favourite fake tan below.
Here are a few swimwear fitting tips to consider ...
Smaller bust - if like me you have a smaller bust then you can pretty much choose any style you wish. I always choose a little padding with removable cups and I love a halter top style as the deep V-neck gives me more of a cleavage and I love how this shape flatters my shoulders (like the Melissa Odabash design above). But a halter top style is less easy to adjust for the all important tan, I do simply untie the straps but have got up on a few occasions having forgotten and end up being a bit too revealing so another good choice is the bandeau style bikini tops or swimsuit.
Larger bust - choosing a design with built-in underwire is a good option and ideally look for cup-size bikini tops too. A good tip to remember for a larger bust is to not go too skimpy on the bikini bottoms so that your figure is balanced. Adjustable straps and wide straps are also available in a lot of styles and can offer more support.
Tummy flattering - if you'd rather disguise your tummy area there are two options. Firstly I actually think a smaller bikini bottom is more flattering as it sits below the tummy area, rather than cutting across your tummy which I think can accentuate it too much. I love a tie side as I can adjust the fit so that I don't get any indentation - it doesn't have to be a string side though. The other option is a hipster style bikini bottom with adjustable, gathered, ruched detail, which can really flatter your curves - like the Vix Swimwear one I chose (below). And of course there is the high-waisted bottoms style, I personally think these can have the opposite effect and if there is too much fabric, can make me look bigger so consider carefully, but a fold down, adjustable style gives you the extra coverage when you need it but you can roll down for sunbathing! Beach Café have so many options for you to browse!
Curvier figure - the good news is you can still wear swimwear, and you should, there are so many style options to suit everyone now. Don't be tempted to squeeze into a size too small, we should all size up in swimwear, I am a dress size 10 but always buy a 12 in a swimsuit and usually in bikini bottoms too. Look for some well-placed ruffles or a ruched effect and if you decide on a tummy control style then make sure it isn't too restrictive. Remember your holiday is all about relaxing and feeling comfortable!
The best swimsuits or bikinis are the ones you love, feel amazing in and enjoy wearing!
Above: this gorgeous (and less skimpy) bikini is the Lupita Bia Bikini from Vix Swimwear at Beach Café. Why I love it ... a slightly more generous bikini bottom but still with an adjustable side detail so you can move to the most flattering position for you, I love the black and cream check, a true classic, the fabric is soft and it feels amazing to wear, it has removable padding and attractive gold detailing. I have styled it with a white shirt from Pia Rossini (all details below).
And don't forget to add gorgeous beach accessories
Invest in a fabulous beach cover-up (a sarong, beach dress, kaftan, beach trousers)! I love my beach dresses and sarongs when I need a little added coverage! I favour a cute cover-up that is short, cotton and easy to throw on without too much embellishment and I don't want a high neck. But they are my go-to for breakfast and lunch around the pool and if I am having a less confident day then I know I can wrap my sarong around my waist. Choose a simple white or play with colours! I will often use a simple cotton scarf as a sarong, you don't need to spend loads of money. A kaftan over a pair of cut off denim shorts is a great beach to bar look and you can dress up for the evening too.
Get some comfortable sliders or flip flops, I usually have a pair of Haviana's but Beach Café have a super colourful collection of styles from Freedom Moses, Sleepers and Ancient Greek Sandals.
Have fun choosing a gorgeous sunhat! My favourite is the Gilly Hat from Creative DeZigns, it is packable, crushable and has SPF50!
Flattering swimwear styles to look out for
Swim dresses - can be really flattering for a curvier figure or if you prefer something a little less revealing.
One-shoulder swimsuit - currently very on trend, they are super stylish and can be worn in the evening too, add a skirt or beach trouser, some heels and a necklace!
Tummy control swimsuits - these have been around for years now but have improved so much, no longer restrictive and difficult to get on, they are the perfect choice if you would like a full coverage and want to complement your body shape, these can be the most flattering swimsuits.
High-waisted bottoms - choose a pair you can wear a couple of different ways, usually they have a fold over top that can be worn up or down, just make sure they are not too big and choose a bikini top that is in proportion, but this 50s inspired look can be super-flattering.
Tie-sided bottoms - still my favourite but they don't have to be tiny, string sides there are many options with a more distinctive wider tie design.
Classic slimming one-piece swimsuit - don't rule out a classic style, I have a black swimsuit with a tie at the waist and a deep halter neck that is stunning in it's simplicity, it works and I know I can put it on and feel confident immediately - similar here from Seafolly.
We are all different and my best advice is to try lots of different styles, different sizes and different colours until you find what works for you. I always recommend applying some fake tan before a swimwear trying on session! A bit of fake tan can do wonders for our confidence!
Just add fake tan!
Do you like to fake it? I love Skinny Tan, I was introduced to this brand last year and have used it ever since. The Skinny Tan Wonder Serum is a best seller and it is obvious to see why, it is ideal for more mature skin and has a super hydrating formula that it is easy to apply and develops in 6-8 hours.
And one final thought ... is it worth investing in designer swimwear over something from H&M or Marks & Spencer? My opinion is yes, you really can tell the difference in the fabric and the cut and if you are a little self-conscious or need some help choosing the right style for your figure, you will be amazed how much difference a well designed bikini can make. If you can find the right swimwear, you will have it for years and feel fantastic in it. I often have this dilemma with designer jeans vs high street jeans and in truth I get far more wear out of my 7 For All Mankind or Citizens of Humanity denim than I do when I buy from the high street. The attention to detail and the cut are obvious. The same with lingerie (my favourite investment is Marie Jo Lingerie) you do get what you pay for and the higher end designers are used to cutting the fabric and adding the right details to flatter. Quality over quantity, less is more ... really does make a difference.
Let me know in the comments below, are you a bikini babe or a swimsuit lover?
Shopping details ...
Melissa Odabash Miami Bikini in Lime
Vix Swimwear Lupita Bia Bikini
Miss June Beach Dress - currently out of stock (similar here)
Reeva White Beach Shirt
Straw Beach Bag with Zip
Platform Clogs in Bronze
Disclaimer: Beach Café kindly gifted me two bikinis and a beach dress for the purposes of this blog post, all words and opinions are my own. This blog post contains affiliate links.
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Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about health, menopause, fitness, beauty and style with a focus on the over 50's.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my 50s. I started this blog in 2016 with the purpose of helping other women at this stage of life. I’m delighted that my blog has grown to over 13k visitors per month. Visit my Work with Me page and request my Media Kit for details of product reviews, blogging services and social media content creation.
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