Dress up – and dive right in! The elegant new swim dress

Dress up – and dive right in! Finally, a way to cover up wobbly bits in style thanks to the elegant new swim dress

  • Bathing dresses to cover your tum are no longer only for your Great-Aunt Gladys
  • Here Jess Wood reveals a the contemporary swim dresses making a splash 
  • If you’ve fallen out of love with your bikini these provide a fashionable alternative

If, like me, the very words ‘bathing dress’ make you want to laugh or cry — possibly both — you may be surprised to learn they are this summer’s big swimwear news.

The trend may sound as if it belongs in the Broadstairs of the Edwardian era, as seen in photos of Great-Aunt Gladys, circa 1910: swathed from wrist to knee in wool ‘bathing gear’, smiling stoically as she wilted in the baking heat.

Well, now they’re back. But — stay with me here — the slinky swimsuits hitting shops this year are as far from Great-Aunt Gladys as it’s possible to get.

As a child of the 1980s, when itsy-bitsy string bikinis were the height of glamour, it has taken me many years to overcome my prejudice against the one-piece.

Purple abstract, £16, tuclothing.sainsburys.co.uk

They were the frumpy option mums wore to take us swimming, that hid tums and stretch marks. Shudder. How uncool!

Being allowed my first bikini at 13 was a kind of personal rubicon, making me feel as if I’d arrived at womanhood.

But in recent years, as a mum with a tum myself and 32E boobs, I fell in love with the high-waisted, big-Fifties-brief trend a few years back.

Tummy control, £77, landsend. co.uk

Red tummy control, £25, Delimira at amazon. co.uk

And I’ve been moving firmly into ever more covered territory since.

There have been amazing swimwear innovations in materials and lingerie-level inner structure in recent times.

Which means that an all-in-one can now provide the same figure-flattery as a Roland Mouret Powermesh dress — with a lot more comfort for the beach.

Many of the swim dresses here feature tummy-control panels, but they are miles from the dowdy shapewear of old.

Naif dress, £168, rigbyandpeller.com

Pink crochet, £16, asda. com

Polka dot, £44, cotton traders.com

Choose how ‘dressy’ you want to go. Some styles, like the gorgeous cobalt blue halterneck from Very, are basically a one-piece with an added skirt, for a little extra bum and thigh coverage.

If you fancy a dress, the Land’s End wrap-style ticks every box: cool retro print, tummy control and a bust-flattering wrap and halterneck design.

I’m taking the full-dress plunge with the stunning striped Naif style from Rigby & Peller.

I do love those shots of Great-Aunt Gladys — but my British summer holiday snaps will be very different.                   

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