It had to happen – but it sure seemed to take a long time. I refer of course to the sudden popularity of modest swimsuits for women.
Reported this week in the Huff Post, modest garb on the beach and at the pool is increasingly “in.” As in swimwear with leggings or knee length skirts with ruffles or skorts (skirt-short combos) to the upper thighs, loose tunics with knee length leggings – and even (gasp!) one piece swimsuits “covering the bust area.”
Covering the bust area -- say it ain’t so? Or would all that modesty be a pleasant change after years of show-practically-everything swimsuits – and street and office clothes too? The beach parade of jiggling flesh in two-piecers is bad enough, but when zillions of others also wear revealing tops, there’s virtually nowhere one might avert one’s gaze to. It all gives new and unseemly meaning to “self-disclosure.”
The novelty of being covered might be seductive in itself. For those so inclined, the round up of “new” covered-up swimwear includes Catholic nun garb and hijabs for the seaside.
Those interested in modest swimwear include the plump and the pious, according to one account. But besides plus-size women and those who are religious, “secular” buyers include body-conscious and older women and the athletically inclined who don’t want to contend with wardrobe malfunctions.
Of course, the designers and sellers of modest swimwear argue that “modest” and “stylish” are not mutually exclusive. (The Huff Post story includes a series of images – decide for yourself. Seeing them, I hoped only that there’s not much serious swimming involved.)
It’s reportedly a niche market right now, but you can be sure it’s also a money-maker or they wouldn’t be in it. Many styles with yards and yards of fabric look more like day wear than not, even though they’re touted as lightweight. (A lightweight “burkini” covering the body from head to foot and looking more like a space suit than a swimming outfit?)
An early entry in the modesty stakes was www.SimplyModest.com, started on religious principles, but now more widely popular. In some cases, the goal is to avoid the word “modest” in naming these new, er—modest swimsuits. Also there’s “HydroChic,” sounding more like a disease than a line of clothing.
Wearers of modest swimsuits are “protected from sun, chlorine and lustful stares,” the Huff Post reported. These suits definitely leave something to the imagination, as people used to say about some movies and books. Mystery and suggestiveness can be more titillating than in-your-face exhibitionism, they had found.
But don’t expect full-scale modesty just yet. The Huff Post reports that “two-piece suits still dominate and are expected to make up 68 percent of a projected $2.6 billion in U.S. women's swimsuit sales in 2012, according to IBISWorld estimates.”
Now that women have started the trend, any chance of a modesty movement in men’s swimsuits? Here’s a pair of modest proposals on that subject: first, rid the world of itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie Speedo swimsuits. Period.
Second, come up with a style that somehow hides the disgusting big bellies that some men seem proud to strut along the water’s edge with. That designer should win a public service prize for beach beautification.
Freelance writer Pat Summers also blogs at www.nj.com/pets.