Three of Ireland’s leading stylists reveal how to look your best on the beach this summer through the decades.
FORGET gluttony — now it’s ‘smuttony’ that is regarded as one of the seven deadly style sins, according to one British fashion bible.
Ever since it first appeared in print in 1810, the descriptor ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ has become the ultimate way to roast fashionistas over 40.
Now, as the mercury finally heads in the right direction however, there have been reported sightings of ‘smutton’ — or summertime mutton — on beaches across the globe too.
“Beachwear is not just a practical thing,” says Natalie Svikle, a Dublin-based stylist and personal shopper.
“When you’re away, you want to look good as well.
“I always tell my clients to have a little bit more fun with their summer ward-robe.
“Unfortunately, in your forties and fifties you can very quickly end up looking like mutton dressed as lamb on holidays.”
Slogan t-shirts, henna tattoos, and toe rings are just some of the returned 90s trends being blamed for the rise of smuttony this season.
Style consultant Laura Nolan of LNH Image International warned women against following the herd: “As you get older, there’s just no point in following trends because they change so often and sometimes they aren’t age-appropriate.
“Ultimately, though, it’s all about what you’re comfortable in and what suits your body shape.”
Here, three of Ireland’s leading stylists reveal how to look your best on the beach this summer through the decades.
SPF at the ready — if you’ve got it, as the old style adage goes, now’s the time to flaunt it.
Sizzling swimsuits and short shorts are just two of the flesh-flashing trends being snapped up by 20-somethings here this summer.
Like 20-year-old Kendall Jenner and younger sister Kylie, who appear to be on permanent holiday, our experts say you should push the boat out while you still can.
“The twenties is definitely the decade for being a bit braver on the beach,” reckons stylist and personal shopper Marietta Doran.
Donning a daring cut-out swimsuit — missing more material than they actually feature — is certainly one way to keep up with the Kardashians.
“In your twenties, I would say just go for it,” agrees Laura Nolan.
“Your body’s probably going to be at its best in your twenties, so flaunt it.
“Wear all the cool shorts and amazing cut-out swimsuits because it’s your only opportunity.”
Pimped-up Daisy Dukes, gladiator sandals, and kitsch sunnies will all help to complete the look, or ‘slay by the sea’ as the Snapchat generation might put it.
“Gladiator sandals are quite a young trend,” says Natalie Svikle.
“It’s something you see a lot on the beaches of Marbella.
“Anything with tassels is also very much in at the moment.”
But don’t stress if your budget’s more ‘tenner’ than Jenner.
“Keep it cheap and cheerful,” continues Laura.
“I wouldn’t really recommend investing too much money into beachwear pieces because how often do you go on holidays?
“And you’re certainly not going to be wearing a cut-out swimsuit in Ireland!”
Danger — current trends ahead!
Thirty-somethings are in sink or swim territory when it comes to fads such as crop tops and cut-offs, warn the experts.
But don’t pack the one-piece just yet either.
“In your 30s, you obviously still want to look youthful, but I wouldn’t be doing that using the latest trends,” advises Natalie Svikle.
“I always find it great to have a little bit of cover, not just to hide anything you might not want to show, but also because Irish skin is so sun sensitive.”
For one, Beyoncé still looks red hot on holidays at 34.
Her retro two-piece is the perfect choice for other bootylicious mums, Marietta says.
“In our thirties, there might be a little bit of mummy tummy.
“I find high-waisted briefs great because there is that little bit more coverage.
"They’re very comfortable and give you a great shape as well.
“If you don’t want to wear a bikini, but don’t want to wear a one-piece yet either, a tankini is always a good idea.”
Whether you’re a Bey or a DD, search out brands that sell top and bottoms separately, suggests Laura: “Past 30, the days of just going into a store and buying swimwear in size 12, or whatever, are gone.
“The good thing about [websites like] ASOS is that you can mix sizes. So if you’re size 10 on the bottom and size 14 on the top, you can mix and match them.”
Simply throw on a maxi dress and killer wedges to go from shore to dance floor, she adds.
“Maxi dresses are absolutely brilliant for all ages. Even cheaper ones, if you accessorise them correctly, look far more glamorous than shorts.”
Back away from the anklet!
By your forties, you should be channelling Kylie — that’s Minogue, not Jenner — on the beach.
The Queen of Pop may be famous for her barely-there gold hot pants, but Instagramming up a storm on holidays, the 48-year-old showed how the humble bathing suit can be just as sexy.
But you’ve Got To Be Certain it’s got a built-in bra.
“You can get real oomph in swimsuits now with underwired cups,” says Marietta, who’s also resident Style Butler at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
“I always advise my clients to get measured for their swimming costume at the same time they’re getting measured for their bra so you get the perfect fit. Once a year, get measured again because we do change in shape.”
While breezy dresses, kaftans, and sarongs are all ideal for sundown, over-forties should draw a line in the sand at ultraviolet brights, says Natalie.
“You can still play around with bold colour and print in your forties without looking like mutton dressed as lamb,” she says.
“But it’s very difficult to look sophisticated on the beach when you’re wearing something that is neon-coloured.
“I would definitely leave those items for younger girls and stick to good, strong colours like fuchsia or red.”
Swap the naff baseball cap for an elegant beach hat and cheap flip-flops for classic sandals, and you’re good to glow, continues Laura: “Going around beaches and swimming pools, footwear is everybody’s nightmare.
“Espadrilles have a bit more support in them as you get older and they’re totally appropriate for the beach.”
Two-piece or not two-piece, that is the question as you pack for sunnier climes in your fifties.
Of course, like 59-year-old Kim Cattrall — who famously rocked an assortment of racy cossies in Sex and the City — you could bring both.
“I definitely don’t think it has to be a one-piece all the way just because you’re in your 50s,” says Natalie.
“Although triangle bikini tops and side-tie bikini bottoms do tend to look a bit odd on older ladies.
“If you’re going for a bikini, I would be going for a full brief and supportive top that put the girls exactly where they’re supposed to be!”
Among the to-diet-for swimsuits shown in the big-screen version of the cult TV show were designers Ivana Sert and OndadeMar.
For those who are a little more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones, however, Marietta suggests making a splash in your most trusted underwear brand instead.
“Underwear brands that carry swimwear are great because they know exactly what women are looking for,” she says.
“If you’ve got a bit of a tummy, they’ll have exactly the right swimming costume with a little bit of ruching around the middle.”
However, stylists urge jet-setting fifty-somethings to hang up their underbutt-baring shorts in favour of longer styles paired with on-trend metallic sandals.
Laura draws the line at short shorts.
“If you’re in your early twenties, and you’ve got the body for them, you can kind of pull them off.
“This season’s culotte’s or palazzo pants — which can be worn by the pool during the day and dressed up with wedges at night — are the way to go!”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved