Beachwear – are the rules the same for men and women?

As the weather gets hotter, my mind turns to the subject of beachwear.

The problem with beachwear

I’ve always struggled to find appropriate beachwear. My top and bottom sizes don’t match and it’s a nightmare to find something that fits comfortably both north and south. And then there is the question of one piece or 2 piece? Followed by, tankini or normal bra top? Halter neck, strapless or bog standard? Teeny bottoms or mums best big knickers? The choices are vast so why do I have such a problem?

What’s the most flattering style?

I was thumbing through an old Vogue magazine and apparently, it doesn’t really matter what you wear, as long as it fits well.

I would totally agree with this. How many times have I poured myself optimistically into a confection and tried to kid myself I look fabulous? If I spend ages in the changing room pulling the top into place and fishing the bottoms from places they shouldn’t be, then I’m clearly doing something wrong. Now, I always take Meg with me when shopping for beachwear. She is nothing if not honest. Painfully so at times. Indeed, she can be quite hurtful, but I always know that she has my best interests at heart, even if she seems to relish putting the boot in!

For me, beachwear has to be comfy. I have long since given up trying to compete with the tiny hipped, miniscule waisted, bronzed beauties one sees abroad. These days, I am in the matronly mother camp. I don’t think it is fair to subject the world and his wife to my body which has, frankly seen better days.

Having 2 children played havoc with my middle and my boobs didn’t fair too well either. I think it’s all a matter of proportion. The boobs alone would be magnificent. I think my waist is passable (at a push) and my child-bearing hips are coated but not too bad. So what’s the problem I hear you ask? Well, it’s the combination of the 3 which makes me look like a heifer.

Odd Bods Beachwear Boutique

beachwearYou can see that I am not the easiest person to kit out for summer beach fun. Happily, I discovered a little boutique in the high street which specialised in odd bodies. The dear old lady serving me adopted an approach which blended gentle kindness, no-nonsense schoolmarm and a splash of my mother. I was kitted out in no time, with 2 two pieces which could be mixed and matched. Yes, I was wearing mums big knickers but the cut (and the little extra support in the front) made me feel fabulous. Even Meg couldn’t find fault in her choices. Classic cut and colour were to be my raison d’etre.

Trying out the new beachwear


Boosted by my newfound confidence, Meg and I decided to have a quick weekend in the sun. The idea was to road test my new togs. I quickly discovered that Meg had taken a trip to my odd bodies boutique too. Thankfully, the sales lady hadn’t sold her the same outfits as me. We felt fantastic. Lying on our sunbeds, enjoying the gentle rays and doing what we do best – people watching.

Well, what sights there were on offer. I began to wonder why I had taken so much trouble to ensure my body was suitably clad to avoid offence. There were a number of women who clearly hadn’t read the Vogue article, or had access to the Odd Bods boutique, but in a way, I could forgive them their transgression. And at least they flaunted it with panache and perfect posture.

Beware budgie smugglers

More offensive in my view was the men. I wonder why some men think it is ok to pour their southern quarters into teeny weeny budgie smugglers and then parade around with enormous bellies spilling over the top. I don’t care how bronzed or how beautifully perfumed they are. It is NOT a pleasing sight. If you’re going to wear Olympic swimmers, then at least have the decency to look like an Olympic swimmer, not a beached whale. Of course, I will accept Daniel Craig lookalikes as an alternative but that’s part of a whole different story!

We described the sights to our chum Marcus over a bottle of wine on our return. By then it was a really funny memory and one I thought I could park.

Could it get worse?

‘Ah’ said Marcus, ferreting in his laptop bag.  ‘It’s my birthday on the 18th and I’ve been given an early pressie. When you next go away I would love to come with you and road test it.’ And with a flourish, he triumphantly whipped out….a gold mankini.

I wonder if Odd Bods boutique does beachwear for chaps?