00:00 Saturday 23 June 2012 

Beating beach body demons

Although we Irish people may feel like we are still merely dancing around the outskirts of the summer, the fashion world has other ideas. Not only have the Vogues and Grazias of this world decided to bid a premature farewell to the sunshine with talks of summer sales and trends that are 'so next season', but they are also gradually filtering information about upcoming autumn/winter catwalk crazes on to the pages of their magazines and websites. Well I for one am not giving in! Rather than staying one step ahead in the fashion stakes, I have decided to cling on to my short tea dresses and pretty sandals in anticipation of the dry, hot and sunny summer that we may still get. So in a true act of fashion rebellion, I am ignoring the next big thing in order to advise you on how to look fierce and fashionable on those sun-kissed beaches we will no doubt be visiting in the coming months!

The idea of removing the layers for a day trip to the sea or a sun holiday by the beach can cause the most slender of ladies to break a sweat. Throughout the year the majority of us deal with those ever-present love handles and the dreaded cellulite by covering up from our toes to our chin, but come summer, there is no escape. Aside from this, there is the added pressure of knowing what to wear on the beach once you get past a certain age and once you reach a certain size. Women in their fifties, sixties and even seventies can often be unsure of what is suitable when it comes to beach attire, while a lot of plus-size women feel very limited with the choice that is available to them in terms of the high street swimwear lines.

Key tips

Celebrity stylist Courtney Smith, who is a frequent contributor on TV3's Xposé, believes that no matter what age, height, shape or size you might be, it is still possible to build up a selection of beachwear that is every bit as flattering and classy as your everyday wardrobe. So what are Courtney's key tips for beating those beach body demons this summer?

'Retro swimwear is back with a bang this season - and thank goodness!' says Courtney. 'So long bikini diets and hello more fabric! Younger girls can wear the cool cut-away swimsuits and the high-waisted briefs with cropped bustier swim tops, while for any ladies who want even more coverage, the full bathing suits with 50s pin-up style ruffles are everywhere this season.' Another fashionable way to disguise any problem areas without looking and feeling overdressed is by investing in a chic cover up. 'This season, cover up with a stylish kaftan or kimono to stay super-trendy,' suggests Courtney. 'Not only can you hide any lumps and bumps, but there are different lengths available. There is also a design for every personal taste with vintage-inspired prints, fringing and floral patterns in sheer or even cotton. This is a stylish seventies-inspired must-have beach cover up for any age and is the perfect alternative to the sarong.' And as it turns out, this wonder garment has a dual purpose. 'It even looks ultra glam to wear from the beach to the bar,' says Courtney. 'Just team with wedges, a belt to define your waist and some killer statement jewellery. Channel Bianca Jagger and Anjelica Huston in the Studio 54 days and you are onto a winner!'

Stylish accessorising

Seeing images in the media of bikini-clad über babes showing off their washboard tummies can make us feel inferior and cause us to be a little more than self-deprecating. But flashing the flesh on the beach doesn't automatically equal sexy. If your figure isn't your best feature, focus on accentuating your good points through stylish accessorising. According to the chic Miss Smith, 'More than ever accessories are bigger and better for beachwear this year. Just check out Beyonce's blinging hoop earrings! Designers like Versace had super sea-inspired jewellery. Have fun with jewellery and swimwear this season; just be careful that the high street versions don't turn your skin green on contact with water. This is not a stylish look!'

So as it turns out, making the right impression on the beach isn't as implausible as it seems. With a pretty kaftan, some deceivingly slimming swimwear and colourful beach-friendly accessories, we'll blend in with the best of them. Believe it or not; we might even stand out!

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