Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published January 1st 2012
People who hate fun often talk about bikinis as if they were a symptom of the general decline of modern times. "In our day," they say, "people weren't shameless enough to wear something like that." In fact, the earliest case of bikini wearing dates to around 5600 BC, when an Anatolian fertility goddess was depicted wearing a bikini and riding two leopards. Ancient Greece, Rome and the earliest Roman Britain societies all saw the bikini as a celebration of female youth and sexuality. In Roman bathhouses, the bikini was even a sign of modesty, since it was the custom to bathe totally naked. Before global warming kills us all, scientists say, it will give us even more warm days where we can enjoy sun and sand - so head down to the beach and be a part of the historic bikini tradition.
First and foremost, the bikini is a fashionable piece of beach wear (unless you're hipster enough to go for an old neck-to-ankle bathing suit). Modern fashion, then, should inform your decision of what kind of bikini to wear. Here's Micheline Bernadini, modelling one of the first modern bikinis. High-topped bombshell bikinis are coming back into fashion like a tidal wave. Go old-school this summer and wear what will probably be the most fashionable bikini of 2012:
For those who yearn for something retro.
Those not brave enough to travel back in time can follow other, less adventurous, fashion directions. If the current trend continues, the bikinis of 2012 will be even bolder and more colourful than this year's: look out for pastel neons, vibrant prints, and lingerie-inspired designs. Here's some advice on what to wear from a guy who dabbles in fashion in his spare time.
This Mara Hoffman one-piece is more of a tankini, drawing attention to the torso and hips with some cut-out detailing. The back sits low, providing a muted contrast to the beaded extravagance of the ethnic design. It looks about as expensive as it actually is, so you'll be drawing attention from all corners of the beach. Make sure your beach body's good enough to show off, otherwise guys will be too entranced by the stylish beading to pay any attention to the woman inside the bikini. You can't blame them - after all, as everybody knows, this is the standout bikini from the Mara Hoffman 2012 collection. Don't worry too much, though: black is a very slimming colour and works amazingly well with tanned skin.
The Mara Hoffman cheetah two-piece, with some model behind it.
If you're looking for a more revealing and less recognizable Mara Hoffman bikini, go for the Cheetah two-piece. It continues the African motif with three colourful strips – one under the top half, and two on the edges of the bottom half. They'll draw attention to where it'll do the most good: the understated halter top with crossover straps on the back. Wear this at the poolside and you're guaranteed a continuous string of guys, all with the same question: are these vibrant prints and lingerie-inspired looks the seeds of a fashion revolution? Go on, be a little naughty and give them what they want – a rundown of the Aqua Di Lara bikini range, which takes swimwear fashion in a whole other direction.
Aqua Di Lara's Mandisa 08, a joy for men and women alike.
This is Aqua Di Lara's signature design, and it's easy to see why. Classy without being boring; sexy without being too revealing – the play of fabric over this one-piece bikini is like nothing else. The central diamond is placed just above the belly button, and it gives the illusion of a lot of fabric while still being very revealing. That's the one disappointing feature of this bikini: it focusses too much on the wearer and doesn't do enough to bring out the vertical ruffles. Perhaps if it were larger – covering much more skin – Aqua Di Lara would have had more scope to design. This is a bikini that makes you wish that, instead of a woman inside it, there was another bikini. After all, a woman's soft curves can never match the beauty of perfectly matching colour and fabric.
A Jogo Beach bikini, with a model in the way again.
Finally, here's an example of what not to wear. This offering from Jogo Beach is a bold but ultimately failed attempt to put the less-is-more principle into practice. It's a plain white two-piece, cut to accentuate the curve of the hips and reveal the shoulders, with a u-shape in the middle of the upper piece. You have to wonder what the designer was thinking here: why would you make a bikini that aimed at making the woman wearing it more attractive? From a distance, you can barely see any of the distinguishing features of this outfit at all. Men, if you see someone on the beach wearing this, stay clear – there's almost no chance that she'll want to talk about the aesthetics of fabric choice or the merits of halter tops over bandeaux. And what on earth else would you want to discuss?