Beside the sea

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Beach fashion gets a vintage twist for the summer, at home and abroad. Stephanie Smith picks out cool key looks.

The best summer holiday wardrobes are ones that allow you to morph seamlessly from beach to bar, from day to night, so that you don’t have to waste any precious time dressing or even having to think about what to wear.

Trouble is, this is often far easier said than done. For many of us, especially those with children, our beach wardrobe may well consist of nothing more seaside-friendly than a pair of baggy old cotton drawstring shorts, a couple of vest tops, a two-year-old maxi dress, some battered sandals and a swimsuit that has seen better days but which is still vaguely flattering, and still vaguely fits, so we can’t bear to get rid of it.

Of course, once we have lost a little weight on our pre-holiday diet, and completed that exercise programme and bought some fake tan, well, maybe then we might think about treating ourselves to some new swimwear and beach pieces, but until then... well, what’s the point?

For those of us who do think this way, a reality check is perhaps needed. Yes, the diet and exercise plans might come to fruition, but don’t bank on them... and don’t let them stop you from making the best of what’s available now.

There are plenty of ways to go with beachwear this summer, but retro is one of the best, evoking the spirit of seasides past, while bringing a cool and elegant twist to resort dressing.

Look out for stripes, especially blue and white, although do bear in mind that this is a vintage approach, not merely the same old annual nautical look, so steer clear of anchors and rope fastening.

The striped slimline maxi dress is a key item. Usually in a cotton jersey, and with a scoop-necked, sleeveless vest-style top (short and cap sleeves can work, too), this can cling in all the wrong places, if you ae not careful, although a supportive swimsuit beneath will do the same job as a figure-holding bodysuit. A halter-neck swimsuit with spaghetti string straps will look suitably retro under it and you can wear a white or black fine cotton shirt over as a cover-up for arms and to save bare shoulders from sunburn. As an alternative, a geo or floral print shirt or kimono jacket over could also work well, especially if all kept within the same colour family.

A striped playsuit is ideal for the beach, especially in towelling, for over your beach wear, but there are alternatives in the form of beach dresses that work just as well. Look for a length you feel comfortable with, and team with low to medium wedge sandals if you feel in need of the extra height.

Don’t forget that you can use the stripes to body balance, so pear shapes can try a striped top with plain bottoms, and for the top heavy, vice versa. This rule works (to a degree, anyway) for both separates and for bikinis and swimsuits. Top it all off with a straw trilby and you’re ready for anything.

Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ