Wednesday 22 July 2009


The ghastliness of summer is full upon us, and unless you've spent the last six months in the gym, or have the kind of self-control that means you never say yes to a Malteser or a second glass of wine, your self-esteem will join mine on the floor at the very thought of having to remove vast amounts of clothes in favour of The Swimming Costume.

Bikini season ought to come complete with a special prescription of Prozac, to anaesthetise one against the pain of putting on show a non-photo-shopped body. And if you've had children, then perhaps a side-order of hemlock might go well with the SRI's, because the words 'bikini' and 'post-baby body' don't appear to belong in the same sentence together. Not for me, anyway.

Unless you're Natalia Vodianova, pregnancy takes its toll, if not physically, then at least on the way one feels about oneself.

But what's the answer? Does one just resolve to try not to care, to get over it? Or does one opt for a punitive diet and a rigorous gym routine - though, frankly, who has the time? Or perhaps a 'Mummy Job' is the answer, taking a surgical route to restore one's body to its ante-partum glory? Tempting, but in truth, if I had several thousand pounds lying around I'd have the bathroom done rather than my boobs, it being on show a lot more often than my embonpoint.

Fortunately, there is a fourth option: decent swimwear. I'd heard friends rave about Heidi Klein, but couldn't quite bring myself to part with the money, until a tempting discount on their Facebook page, and the trauma of a forthcoming holiday, made me wonder if a well cut costume could be the swimwear equivalent of a pair of black opaques. Reader, I can't tell you the joy of the Delfi one-piece (pictured above, in espresso brown, which is very flattering if you're extremely pale like me). All thoughts of hiring a Victorian bathing machine, or of taking up mountain climbing in an attempt to avoid the swimming pool/beach moment, vanished: the fabric is thick enough to smooth one's stomach enviably flat, the clever halter-neck and well-thought out stitching under the bust cheerily re-perks my boobs, and the gold thingywhatsits on the straps can be moved up or down, depending on how deep a cleavage one is willing to show.

Mothers themselves, Penny Klein, and her business partner Heidi Gosman, know exactly what women go through when the holidays are looming. The success of their range is partly to do with the quality of fabrics used, but it's also about the way its designed by women for women, with the express purpose of making real bodies look and feel fabulous, on the beach, in the sea and by the pool.

The website is extremely good, but I love the store experience even more- there's one in Notting Hill, and one in Chelsea, and each offers a complete pre-holiday experience. Not only are the staff utterly expert in finding the perfect bikini for you, but you can also have a spray tan (everything looks better brown, and since I start off pale blue and don't get much darker, a professional fake tan is my number one holiday essential), a fab pedicure, and find gorgeous cover-ups to take you from beach to bar for pool side cocktails, great jewellery to dress up bikinis and casual beachwear, sandals and those ultra cool hats that look so effortlessly chic on a beach-side Elle Macpherson.

I'm not a fashion writer, but even I can see that there are some ultra-clever figure fixers in the Heidi Klein range that would work particularly well for the post-baby body: The bottoms of the Antibes fold up or down, an ideal fix for a mummy-tummy.

If you're small-breasted but in need of a boost, or generous bosomed in search of support, its top has sideboning and can be tied both behind the neck and at the ribcage to raise the bust and lengthen the torso. What's more, the Antibes top - and several others - go up to a G-cup.

Although I've been a life-long devotee of the bikini, I find it's not as practical a solution as it once was now I'm chasing after two infants, one of whom thinks it's hilarious to pull down pants or pull up bikini tops. How we all laughed. I love the Delfi, but had I been in need of a little more support up top, I'd have gone for the Bamboo one piece, which has sexy low back with self-ties, so you can adjust the fit to offer more support around your rib-cage to lift the bust. It's also very chic, and shows just enough skin to be alluring, yet leaves enough to the imagination to maintain the illusion that all is just as it should be, and in aubergine, it's a colour that again works well if your skin tones are a little too celtic for fashion.

At around £140, I'm not going to pretend that it's a particularly frugal solution. But when I think of the money I've spent on buying several less flattering outfits, and how much more attractive I feel when pool-side, it feels like money well spent. And, unusually, so does Mr Trefusis.


vicki archer said...

Great choice of swimwear - love the one piece. If Heidi Klein has managed to make buying swimwear a pleasant experience then they deserve our any price it is worth it to avoid the normal horror of bright lights, mirrors that are too close and unflattering bikinis. xv

Rose said...

hmm I may really have to try one of these. I am a G cup but with quite a standard (but not slim!)figure otherwise and I have to buy swimwear from lingerie companies.

I think I have come to realise that swimwear is like underwear in many respects- at least for buxom ladies- and that you do have to spend some money.

So Lovely said...

Am also devotee of the bikini but invested in a two piece "tankini' (oh Lord, could they not have come up with a slightly more elegant name). Its black and the top is boned to the nines. I'm a D cup, don't need th lift but more the control as don't really want to give everyone on the beach a free peep show. Its really the best of both worlds as can be a one piece or for sun bathing purposes can be hitched up to expose the stomach.
I love the Heidi Klein beach wear and when next in London will ply myself with alcohol & go try a few on.
Can imagine how stunning you look in your number. xxx

Anonymous said...

I nearly clicked straight off when I thought you were only going to feature bikinis. My stomach has more in common with a sharpei dog than a human torso, and no amount of 'flattering waist band' is going to stop fellow beach-goers vomiting into their winkles.

That one-piece though, that I could wear. Thank you.

oneof365 said...

Mrs. T! I can't believe I wasn't the 1st to comment on your latest and greatest blog entry! Finally, words of wisdom from the queen bee herself.

Swimsuits are heinous pieces of fabric that women are forced to throw on at some point every year and pray that they aren't scrutinized by other women, other men, and even some big-mouthed kid who says "mommy, why is she so fat?"

I think you picked out a beauty with that chocolate piece with gold hardware. I love the sexiness, but that it is also a one piece. I've not had kids, but my stomach is by NO means perfect. And man, my skin is certainly alabaster. A spray tan is a genius idea to have in a swim shop--bravo to whomever thought of that.

I'm glad they are starting to sell tops and bottoms in different sizes. I remember you had to buy a small, medium, large etc. bikini. Well, some ladies are small on top and big on the bottom and vice-versa. That totally sucks--and you know when you try to make the switcharoo in the fitting room your ass gets caught.

I just bought a lovely bandeau bikini and adore it because it has built in underwire for support. Saggy boobs this girl will NOT have!

I'm sure Mr. T will think you are a hot ticket whatever you look like. My opinion is that a bathing suit is a worthwhile investment. Yes, 140 quid is a helluva lot of money for a thing you frickin' hate. But, if it is gonna make you feel decent when you take that bloody kaftan off, it's worth it.

Great piece---witty as always---and PLEASE do us all a favor and post again soon---none of this once a month nonsense. You are too much fun for that and I miss your P.O.V.

With much love and bathing suit commiseration--

Anonymous said...

your passion for this subject makes me want a bikini :-(

westendmum said...

I hope Mrs Trefusis you will be wearing heels with the costume, a look often pictured in 'Vogue'.

Welsh Girl said...

These look beautiful and I am a woman who runs away from swimming costumes and considers the arctic a good holiday option as it enables me to wear as many clothes as possible. I wish my budget allowed me to go to this delicious looking shop and indulge in pedicures, tans and swimming costumes.... Great post by the by!!

Miss Cavendish said...

Apres three children, I champion the tankini too. Back in the day I'd buy a new bikini for each season, but I've had my elegant tankini for a few seasons now . . .

Unknown said...

I will try these, though I've found in the past that if you squeeze the body in one area bits pop up somewhere else...
Helena xx

redfox said...

You make a very convincing argument for these lovely garments. But what to do with hideous thighs? It seems that the fundamental essence of swimwear, barring a Victorian era suit with bloomers, is to expose them cruelly to the world, and there is nothing to be done about it. (Aside from spending vast sums on cellulite-removal technology -- hm, I think I have answered my own question! And everyone needs a hobby.)

Errant Aesthete said...

Mrs. Trefusis,

The spray tan is essential to disguise a host of imperfections. The sleek one piece espresso is so very de rigueur one has to wonder what took so long. And finally, a masterfully well made one piece, the equivalent as you point out, of a pair of black opaques, truly reduces the horror of pool parties.

As for those "thighs," a tip a stylist pointed out to me years ago. The time actually spent in the water is brief, it's the cocktails and chat that require a disguise proof solution, a sartorially suitable lounged-in look that conveys just the right touch of effortlessness. Hence, those wonderfully sheer wrapped, gaily colored cotton scarves tied around the waist (ala sarong) that reveal the best part of the leg -- the center front -- are, unquestionably, the tropics contribution to a girl's best friend. And, of course, a big floppy hat with over sized shades.

mothership said...

A lovely post, even on a most uncomfortable subject. I had to buy a couple of bathing suits last year after my ancient and beloved £200leopard bikini (honestly, it's better than it sounds and was worth every penny, even when I was skint in 1995) fell to pieces. It was deeply traumatic and I had to take Husband with me in the end so I didn't end up killing myself.
Fortunately I came out with something fairly decent and the supportive wolf-whistling helped but I still shudder at the thought of having to go in and buy a one piece (I am rather long in the torso and they tend to bisect me vertically - ouch!) on my own.
I think I'll come over on a trip with So Lovely, hit that bottle and we'll do it together! Thanks for the tips

Helen Brocklebank said...

So sorry I've been so slack about writing. Mr Trefusis is away in Darkest Africa for five weeks and I've been shuttling between work and infant wrangling without a minute to do anything other than a bit of twitter. It's all a bit difficult, really. I take my hat off to single parents: I have no idea how they cope - I'm really struggling.
Anyway, I'm hoping to be able to post this week if I can possibly get the children to bed at a civilised hour. Not happening at the moment. They are missing Mr Trefusis and playing me up in his absence something rotten. Sigh. Hopefully, I'll have cracked it by the time he comes back. Maybe.

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments. It's so very nice of you. Huge apologies for not responding individually. I so love the blogs you write. xxx

Anonymous said...

I bought your suit – you're right, it does wonders and I think I'll be able to brave the waters once again!! Thank you.