My advice on the beach front for any woman who can pinch more than an inch is that a bikini is bad news. The good news for those with more than one midriff (and who would rather keep that fact under wraps) is that the one-piece is still a fashionable alternative – annually accounting for 60% of all swimsuit sales.
A clever way of achieving the ‘bikini-look’, whilst still having your midriff discreetly covered and held in a vice-like grip, is to choose a swimsuit with a tight mesh centre panel or a series of lycra bands on a sheer background. Swimsuits with just the side panels missing, leaving the front and back lycra panels firmly in place, are also ideal if you have a nice waistline but want to keep the tummy well under wraps. Alternatively, attention can be focused on the midriff without exposing any flesh at all by choosing designs with ruched, wrap-over or knotted/tied effects across the front of the swimsuit.

If you don’t want to make your midriff the focus of attention, keep that area as plain as possible and go for a well-sculpted, deeply dramatic cleavage instead. If nature was not too generous to you in this department, there are lots of swimsuits available with underwires and padding (sometimes removable) to boost your assets and create more cleavage. Swimsuits with ruching , frills or metallic/beading decoration at the bustline will also boost your bust and draw attention to that area.

A very feminine look (but strictly for the ultra-slim who require no bra support at all) can be achieved with spaghetti-strap swimsuits which tie prettily on top of the shoulders. Some versions are also available with matching string effects at hip level which can be tightened to raise the swimsuit to hip-level and lengthen the legs. These styles, which were popular in the 70’s, have returned with the emergence of a new pretty, feminine mood in fashion. A larger bust, however, should avoid spaghetti straps and opt for wide, parallel shoulder-straps to give good support. Those with narrow shoulders should avoid halter necks which narrow shoulders even further – resulting in larger-looking hips and the dreaded ‘pear-shape’!

Shiny fabrics reflect light and increase the size of the object they cover – particularly stomachs, bottoms and bosoms. So, if you are fuller figured, steer clear of metallic fabrics or shiny nylon and opt for plain, matt, cotton fabrics. Large-scale patterns such as paisleys, florals and animal-skin prints in rich, deep tones can also be slimming. Look out for complementary beach cover-ups – shirts, sarongs, drawstring pants, dresses – in equally matt fabrics and similarly deep, muted patterns such as ethnic-inspired prints. Light and/or shiny fabrics and any kind of horizontal design are most flattering to the toned, slim figure.

For those who prefer to be active rather than decorative on the beach, there are plenty of ‘sportive’ styles to choose from. Mainly in black and white or navy and white (or stripy combinations of day-glo colours), these suits contain a high lycra content in designs featuring tight shoulder straps, no bust support and high-cut legs. If you are slim, one-piece suits of different cuts and in different colours can be worn over each other to achieve a fashionable ‘layered’ look.


Bearing in mind all the uncomfortable places that sand can get into whilst you are lazing on a beach, the last thing you need is an ill-fitting swimsuit. If your costume doesn’t fit well, it won’t ever look or feel right, so always begin with choosing the right size – usually one size larger than your dress size. If, for example, you cannot fit your thumbs comfortably under the straps of your costume, or if it bulges, cuts or rides up, it is definitely too small. The real acid test (which may cause a disturbance in the fitting rooms but is still worth doing) is to jump up and down, twist, bend, reach, squat and then see if the swimsuit is still where it’s supposed to be…

1. One-piece suit
2. Deep colour/pattern
3. Matt fabric
4. Medium-cut leg (not too high or too low)
5. High lycra/spandex content
6. Vertical details (stripes, seams, buttons etc)
7. Built-in tummy control panel
8. Under-wired bra
9. Wide-set straps
10. Lowish neckline (V or sweetheart)

Sheer Shirt – the perfect cover-up for the beach which can also double as an evening jacket paired with a camisole or bustier and palazzos.

Pareos/sarongs – long or short wraps to tie around the waist or hips over your swimsuit. If you are petite, tie at the bustline for a long-line look. Tie at a diagonal angle if you are thick waisted. Tie as halter-neck if you are braod-shouldered.

Loose palazzo pants – an alternative to the sarong for those who prefer trousers – especially flattering for the fuller figure teamed with the big sheer shirt.

Cowboy hat – this summer’s most fashionable hat. Choose from neutral shades of beige or brown or turn heads with eye-catching shades of pink or lime!

Beads and bangles – layer on the jewellery for extra style points on the beach. Bold necklaces, chandelier earrings and stacks of bangles make a plain swimsuit sensational.

Tortoiseshell sunglasses – suit everyone with a tan, and come in all shapes and sizes to suit every personality. Team up with a small silk scarf tied at the neck for ‘St Tropez’ chic.

Bandanas – in polka dots, stripes or traditional ‘cowboy’ designs. Tie around the neck (to keep off the sun), around your head (to keep the hair back) or simply on your bag (for a stylish touch).

Wide-brimmed hat – big straw hats, angular and crisp; or floppy flowery, cotton designs, remain classic, timeless beach accessories – add a chiffon scarf to a straw hat for a Forties beach look.

Sexy sandals – if you don’t have the body for a metallic swimsuit, follow the trend with metallic sandals instead. Go for gold, silver or bronze with lots of jewels to catch the sun!

Large tote bag – don’t spoil it all with a plastic carrier bag – carry everything in style in a large, straw, decorated bag or a plastic-lined canvas bag sporting the latest spots or stripes.