Monday, 30 November -0001


You might think beautiful beachwear is just for 20-somethings, but that’s a myth and here is the proof, says Katy Pearson

Written by Katy Pearson
Some 87 per cent of women feel self-conscious on the beach, reveals a new survey. If you fall into that category, the good news is that age does bring confidence. Of the 2,000 women polled by online retailer, those in the age group 60 to 69 said they were the happiest with their figure, with one in three women over 50 happier with their body now than they were when they were in their 20s. And they wear a bikini on the beach.

To prove the point, the retailer reunited three former Miss Great Britains in a bikini shoot to show just how fabulous women in their 50s and 60s can look in a twopiece. Sixty-year-old Gay Spink from Halifax, Miss Great Britain 1973, was joined by Miss Great Britain 1978, Pat Morgan, 53, from Newcastle and Della Draper, 51, from Lincolnshire, Miss UK 1982.

‘Utter rubbish,’ is how Gay Spink sums up the suggestion that older women shouldn’t wear a bikini. ‘I feel better now than I did when I was in my 20s. And I’m more confident than I used to be.’ On holiday, Gay’s swimwear of choice is always a bikini.

As is Della’s. ‘I prefer to be in a bikini because I like to get a tan. I’m more than happy in a sarong and bikini,’ she says. ‘It’s all about your mental outlook on things – an attitude. In fact, I think young girls have more hangups than older women.’ Della keeps herself in shape by skiing, practising yoga, and walking. ‘I don’t do anything over the top,’ she confesses. ‘I enjoy a glass of wine, and I also enjoy chocolate.

‘You’re fighting a losing battle if you try not to age,’ she adds. ‘You’ve got to look the best you can for your age, rather than trying to look 40 if you are 50. As you get older, have the confidence to wear what suits you, rather than what you think you should be wearing, or what is in fashion. Go for the good cuts and the good designs.’

Gay, meanwhile, exercises – a lot – and believes that working out is the secret to staying in model shape in your 60s. ‘I do triathlons,’ she reveals. ‘I run, I swim, I cycle, I go to the gym. It gives me energy. I love my exercise. And I can wear what I want.’

20 - 2.1%
30 - 10.8%
40 - 20.5%
50 - 13.1%
60 - 6.9%
70 - 3.6%
Never - 43%


'We’ve found that a lot of other retailers don’t adjust the fit in the right places for the 50-plus ladies,’ explains Jackie Lewis,’s shapeologist. ‘Some retailers just make the product bigger all over, which is not always the right way to go.

‘Invariably, as you get older it’s the middle section of your body where you put on the weight.

‘And as you age, the position of your pelvis changes. It tends to rotate forward – and that a‚ffects how we shape the front and back of our trousers. You don’t want a baggy bottom.

‘The most common shape in the UK now is the modi fied hourglass – take the typical hourglass figures of the 1950s, but add a thicker waistline. And bigger bustlines as well.

‘The classic hourglass shape is a small proportion of the population now, less than eight per cent. Go above a size 20 and you see a lot of fat gain around the middle, so you lose your natural shape – that’s why you tend to see, say, the apple shape in the plus-size market. The other key shape is the classic pear.

‘The 50-plus lady is usually a modi fied hourglass shape, but with a thicker middle. We work on a standard where the product that we fit and customise is probably about 4cm bigger through the waist than clothes that would be designed for a 25-year-old.’

But what’s Jackie’s top tip for bikini-wearing, whatever your age?

‘Get the right shape of bikini bottoms. A lot of ladies tend to wear more of a shorts style, giving more tummy coverage, maybe with a bit of control at the front to pull them in a bit.

‘Do think about your leg shape. A higher leg looks very slimming if you have a great pair of legs.’

How to buy swimwear

By making a few slight adjustments, a two-piece is still an option for the 50-plus woman, say the experts. When buying swimwear, follow these rules…

  • Take your time when buying. Don’t be tempted to buy the first swimsuit or bikini you try on – unless you really love it.
  • Choose ‘boy-cut’ and skirted bikini bottoms, which flatter more than high-cut, smaller briefs.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of support if you have a larger bust. Choose swimwear with a halterneck top or moulded under-wired cups, to help keep everything in place. An additional strap across the back from the bust line on a swimsuit will add support.
  • If you’re self-conscious about your tummy, check out tummy-control swimwear. A swimsuit with a patterned print will take the focus away from your stomach and make you look slimmer.
  • Having arms on show is a worry for some women, but it’s all about doing it in the right way, with the right fitting top and a colour to match your skin tone.
  • Choose style classics: bright block colours and graphic prints. In the way polka dots that beauty queens model keep a look timeless and elegant, so will classic designs.
  • For vanity reasons, do not try to squeeze into a swimsuit that is too small. The right size will always achieve a look that is the most flattering.

Best bikinis for your shape

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