Summer — the longer days, the barbeques, the trips to the beach … oh yeah, and the bathing suits. Ugh! I don’t know many women who look forward to slipping into their suit and hanging out with friends or strangers. I know I’m certainly not one of them. I definitely wouldn’t parade around in my skivvies in front of strangers, and donning a swimsuit feels very similar to me. Alas, I don’t allow my “body issues” to keep me from cooling off in a local pool on a hot day with my children (or “small peeps” as I generally refer to them). No matter your comfort level in wearing swimsuits in public, it’s important to consider a few things before hitting the beach with friends, colleagues, family or the general public. Perception Have you been invited to an office pool party? Proceed with caution. No matter what shape your beach body is in, once people see you in your suit, it is difficult for them to perceive you as completely clothed in their mind’s eye again (and let’s face it — no one can poke out their mind’s eye). Professional relationships demand a bit of detachment and suiting up in front of colleagues and customers doesn’t align with those necessary and expected boundaries. I recommend that male partygoers stick to Bermuda or Jamaican style shorts paired with a golf or linen shirt. My recommendation for ladies is Bermuda or Jamaican style shorts worn with a golf shirt or a nice cotton or linen shirt (with or without sleeves), or they can opt for a summery dress or skirt and shirt combo with stylish sandals. This isn’t about being a party pooper — it’s about keeping your image intact. I’m confident you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get in the water this summer with people you don’t have to sit in a conference room with on Monday morning. Body Shape We are each uniquely beautiful, which makes it imperative to purchase bathing suits (and other garments) that flatter our personal physique. With fabric technology these days, it’s easier than ever to find something that enhances your assets, camouflages your areas of concern and provides the right amount coverage. I know as a mother of three that my body has never gotten back to its pre-baby beach-worthiness. As such, I tend to favor tankinis with swim skirts. My current favorite is by Land’s End and what I LOVE about it is that the skirt comes up higher (think Spanks), preventing it from cutting me off in my less-than-rock-hard center. That’s right — no more tankini muffin top! I went with black, which allows me to mix and match tops for different looks. The swim skirt is not overly long, but allows for camouflaging of my hips. Are you more into one-piece suits? Ruching is your friend. Whether you want to disguise your mid-section or increase your bust size — well-placed ruching can help you accomplish that. The key is to be sure what you want your suit to do for your shape and use its line and design to ensure that happens. Activities Are you going to wear your suit while leisurely lying in the sun, or waterskiing, jet skiing and tubing? It’s important to consider this before making your purchase. As cute as a string bikini may look on you, it may not hold up to the intensity of certain water sports (or diving or simply jumping into the deep end). Making your way back to your beach towel sans all, or part of your suit, is one walk of shame I recommend to try and avoid at all costs. Conversely, your swim shirt isn’t going to provide you with the breathability you desire when catching some rays on the shore. Regardless of what you’re doing in your suit — a suitable cover-up is an essential. Swimsuits are made for use while in, or immediately near, the water. If you’re eating lunch, running to the ladies room or driving in the car, it’s best to wear some kind of cover (or tee shirt and shorts and/or skirt). You never know who you may run into, and remember it’s all about perception. I hope all of you and your families go out and enjoy the beauty of a Pure Michigan summer! To find out more about choosing clothes appropriate for you and the occasion, logon on to my blog at www.mieshelimge.com.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.