Itsy bitsy teeny weeny…

As I’m wearing one right now (the Fashion Detective may be on holiday, but she never rests) let’s talk bikinis.

I love bikinis. Liberating, they are. I interviewed Sasha Wilkins recently and she told me how much her grandmother adored the polka dot bikini she always wore when she took Sasha swimming to a neighbour’s open air pool. It made her feel, she said, as young, stylish and glamorous as when she first wore a bikini in the 1950s. Sasha’s grandma said that in the bleak post-war years, when rationing was still in effect, fashion kept her going, and her bikini was part of that.

I can sure see where she was coming from; life in the 2000s may not be as much of a challenge, but skipping around in a bikini gives a girl a sense of freedom and fantastic-ness you just can’t achieve any other way.

I’ve had some really good times in my bikinis. My mum (who I’m hanging out with right now, because she had the good sense to move to France and provide us with an affordable holiday destination) had v good taste in beachwear and put me in a bikini from an early age. There are some cracking photos of me circa 1977, rocking a technicolour two piece and a high ponytail at Ilkley Lido – my Fashion Detective destiny was evident even then.

On the occasion to your right (some hundred years ago), a genius I was on holiday with (in Tossa de Mar – where else?) brought face paints to the beach. My other half flexed his fledgling signwriter’s muscle by scrawling something cheeky across my modest cleavage. Beyond classy, we were/are.

Following all that pushing a baby out business, I was itching to get back into a decent bathing suit, aghast that the baby bulge had forced me into a regulation, black swimming costume. I’d never felt so drab. And that’s the rub with bikinis – they just can’t help adding glamour. The second I’d slimmed down to an acceptable bikini level, I treated myself to an M&S beach beauty with wooden details and bags of room in the knickers for my ample post-baby bottom. I was ecstatic.

I won’t lie to you, the bikini I’m ‘doing’ right now is a £2.50 special from Primark (one of two for a fiver, in fact). But teamed with harems and a trilby, the 1970s inspired design is working out purdy well. And I feel great. Again, liberated. If I wasn’t so worried about flashing those ‘charms’ of mine to all and sundry I’d probably make an excellent nudist.

Given that I love the bikini so, I’m always on the look-see for the brightest, boldest and most eyecatching designs. If you’re going to flaunt it, flaunt it with aplomb. And if you’re worried about your size or shape, a loud bikini diverts attention from your bod and keeps the focus firmly on your fashion sense.

In the shops now, I love the Ikat padded (woot!) triangle bikini from Topshop, Missoni’s classic Dakar knitted bikini, All Saints’ Orion bikini top teamed with Lolita briefs, the ditsy frill bandeau bikini by Miss Selfridge, the Juicy Couture crinkle plaid ruffle halter top and bottoms at ASOS, and this really special one shouldered yellow bikini by La Perla.

If you don’t share my love for the flashing of the flesh, hijack the bikini vibe whilst preserving your modesty with Monsoon’s Navajo striped tankini and bottoms.

And if that lot hasn’t given you enough to think about, get your laughing gear around the bizarre yet strangely adorable Bantu high waist bikini from Net a Porter. 50s mania in the best/worst way – and ideal if you have Christina Hendricks-esque curves going on.

Now just add sun, sand and lashings of confidence-boosting booze. Face paint optional.

The lovely Jen looking, predictably, lush in a ‘kini:

Written by Johanna Payton