on bikinis and such

I’m just going to admit it.

I don’t hate myself in a bikini right now. (Thank you, Biker Barre!)

In fact, I so don’t hate myself in a bikini that I ordered five for my upcoming trip to Hawaii.

This’s not to say that I wasn’t more than slightly stressed about making these purchases. My friend Katie told me that the best bathing suit she has ever owned came from Target. I took her advice and ordered several mix and match pieces for a grand total of less than $35. I kept three interchangeable components: two bottoms and a top. Because the available sizes and colors were limited (at $6/piece, most of the stock had been snatched up) I also ended up ordering additional suits from J. Crew and Zappos. The one from Zappos was returned, as were some of the components from J. Crew, but now that I know what styles I find flattering and styles not, this whole bathing suit thing feels a whole lot easier.

But that’s not all I need for 12 days in Hawaii. While I admire how some of my friends look in shorts, I can’t carry them off with even an ounce of confidence. Rosanna totally rocks a tomboy look. DC Celine can pull off the dressy short. And Wardrobe Oxygen is so rock and roll in her cutoffs. But shorts are not in my comfort zone, whereas skirts and dresses are. Luckily, even though it’s early for resort wear, I managed to find a non-budget-breaking convertible skirt-dress combination (the tag demonstrates seven ways to wear it) at Nordstrom. I bought it in three colors. I also found a cute basic black pareo at Lands End and already own many large scarves that will perform similarly and pair nicely with the bikini colors I chose.

Now the next step is figuring out whether all my items fit in my suitcase once I add shoes (shoes, glorious shoes) and five days worth of clothes for San Francisco. Clearly it is not going to be bathing suit weather there.

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bathing beauty

Image from http://www.polyvore.com/bathing_beauty/set?id=51563525

It almost seems cliche to write about h0w much women hate trying on bathing suits. But really, this task cannot be understated.

I already did a bathing beauty post last summer on this topic, but have been asked three times this week to offer some guidance on how to make this essential summer purchase. Plus, I was inspired by DC Celine’s recent bathing suit buying experience. So while I’m the worst person to give bathing suit shopping advice (after all, as you can read in last summer’s post, I will wear the same hated suit for years in a row just to avoid having to buy another hated suit) I will attempt to provide some direction to those destined for a pool or a beach this summer.

First of all, if you need a suit, and you find one you like, buy it right away. I failed to learn this lesson last summer. Two weeks ago, I had three different bathing suit options in my electronic J. Crew shopping cart, but I was hemming and hawing over sizes, colors and whether or not I can get away with a bikini. J. Crew decided for me, since as of this morning, the green polka dot bikini pictured above is no longer in stock in my size. The green and navy stripped one-piece is backordered until August. The J. Crew version of the pictured green Norma Kamali (a dream purchase I would only make if I planned to spend the summer on the French Riviera) is no longer available in a color I want, and alternative colors aren’t available until, you guessed it, August.

The moral of the story is: buy your suit now.

My other advice is to consider what level of activity you plan to do in said bathing suit. Strapless is good for working on the perfect tan but maybe not for playing with active kids in the water.

Obviously, level of coverage is important as well. I happen to belong to a pool frequented by a number of professional contacts, thus you won’t find me in super revealing styles. But if your pool and/or beach is the hot spot for singles, by all means, opt for the string bikini.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, take your search beyond the usual places. I found last summer’s suit at Zappos, and had delivered next day to destination number two of my New England vacation (too late for a day on the beach in Ipswich but just in time for the pool in Maine).

The bottom line is only you are going to know whether a certain suit works for you, and it may take some trial and error to find the right one. If I find the perfect suit this summer, I plan to buy it in multiple colors so that maybe I can make it another five years before having to undertake this arduous process again.

Unless, of course, I get an offer for that Norma Kamali-worthy summer on the Riviera.

Thanks to Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen for teaching me how to make collages for my blog. You will see more images in my posts thanks to her creativity and willingness to share.

bathing beauty

https://i1.wp.com/photos2.fotosearch.com/bthumb/CLT/CLT003/s4744.jpgIs there anything clothing related that gives a woman who has birthed two children more anxiety than having to get into a bathing suit? Even when I was at my marathon running height of fitness, I detested the trying on and purchasing of bathing suits enough that I wore one that was two sizes too big for three seasons longer than I should have just because the alternative, standing in front of a three-way mirror with that horrible department store lighting, seemed much worse. And I loved the color of the suit.

But this year, I had to face the inevitable. Last year’s hasty on-line bathing suit purchase did not pan out. I had bought a strapless one because I knew I was going to be wearing a strapless dress to a July wedding, and I can’t stand the look of tan lines. Aside from the realization mid-wedding that I never want to wear a strapless dress again, I came to the conclusion that strapless bathing suits just don’t work for moms who still sometimes get in the pool to play with little swimmers who tend to grab fabric instead of flesh when in water over their heads.

Let’s just say, I don’t need a repeat of the time I was at a “mommy and me” baby swim class with Colin at the YMCA when he grabbed a hold of me and pulled down the bodice of my bathing suit, exposing me for more than a brief second to a very shocked dad who didn’t make eye contact with me for the rest of that class or any others. Needless to say, we didn’t take lessons there again.

This year summer came faster than expected, and I’m not just referring to the insanely crazy temperatures and humidity. How can it be that tomorrow is June 1st? The last day of school is in striking distance. Summer camp time is near. Whereas usually the water in the Cheverly Pool is too cold opening weekend or the weather too rainy, this year, we made it for Memorial Day (as did every other pool member) which meant I had to put on a bathing suit just a little sooner than expected. (I honestly thought given our schedule it might be three more weeks before we got there.)

Since I donated the aforementioned strapless suit in a fit of closet and drawer purging, that left one option: the one-piece, racer-back Speedo I bought for myself back when I thought I would trade my running shoes in for laps in a pool. The tags were still on it. And if there is any style suit that was meant for function not form, it is a Speedo. I definitely did not take off my sarong.

But I can’t hide forever, so before they are completely sold out (my first choice style and color is already back ordered until mid-July) I got on the J. Crew website and ordered a couple different options to try on in the privacy of my own room, without the discomfort of unflattering lights and three-way mirrors to taunt me. Which means I will only have my doctor and his ban on activities I consider “real cardio” to blame for what I see reflected back at me. Well, that and my love of food. And wine.

I think regardless of how the suits fit, the sarong is going to figure prominently into my summer plans.