Goodbye to bikinis, hello to swimsuits

Making a splash: Lisa Snowden in her M&S tummy control swimsuit, �29.99.
Making a splash: Lisa Snowden in her M&S tummy control swimsuit, �29.99.
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We go on holiday on Thursday, so naturally I started packing a week ago.

Each year, I pull every floaty, summery, gorgeous bit of frippery of cupboards and drawers, then I drape them all over the spare bedroom.

This is my dream holiday wardrobe, the perfectly co-ordinated outfits in which I can imagine myself swanning around the whole fabulous fortnight. Only, each year there more and more restrictions hampering my style.

Like a 22kg baggage allowance, now rigorously monitored by budget airline check-in KGB. And the tragic fact that roughly 40 per cent of each dream outfit doesn’t fit any more.

This I discovered during Stage Two in the packing process, a lengthy process of trying on, conducted in secret, when Bloke was out walking the dog and feeding the chickens.

I didn’t want him to know I’m having to face the fact that I’ve put on most of the weight I lost for our (my) wedding three years ago. Not when he the chocolate and beer addict never gains so much as an ounce.

Last night, I moved to Stage Three - an exercise in ruthless and discriminatory ageism; with me as the victim. As a proportion of my holiday wardrobe goes back a decade, the question is which of it actually still looks OK on a woman of 50.

Not the flippy, flouncy white broderie Anglais skirt. Not the strippy-strappy top you can’t wear a bra beneath, nor three adored cotton dresses that end two inches above the knee.

I definitely can’t do knees any more. Not since they took to carrying their own little kneeler cushions around with them.

They have gone back in the wardrobe to be re-assessed next year (you never know, someone might invent the Botox knee lift and I could lose two stones in an outbreak of dysentery).

And, reader, I admit; this is to be a ground-breaking holiday. The bikinis have gone back in the drawer, too; for the first time since I was six, I’ll be packing swimsuits.

I’d like to claim it’s down to those girls in the adverts. The three Special K graces who gambol around some glossy far-flung waterfront, look classy in vintage-style cossies. And Clooney’s ex Lisa Snowden in her hold-it-all-in swimsuit from M&S I’ve been and bought two from Debenhams and my, they do work. You should see the size of Lisa without those Lycra control panels. HUGE.

I am lamenting the nuking of my bikini era, though. It feels like I’m entering new territory. Via one of those swaying rope bridges from which there is no way back because someone is about to slash its guiders with a machete.

In fact, I might sneak one in. A bikini that is, not a machete. On Day One I could venture out in the tucky tuck costume and Factor 500+ (to keep the rest of my body as lily-white as my abdomen) and check out the competition.

If there are bellies wobblier than mine on display, maybe I could still get away with the bikini thereafter. I hope so; a vintage cossie’s biggest downside is the expanse of flesh it leaves whale blubber-white.