Finding The One (or two-piece) is easier when there’s an expert on hand. The YOU team (plus fashion director Shelly’s mum) make an appointment with a swimwear personal shopper.
Visited Eres, London SW1; booking not required but recommended.
The Eres store is everything you would expect from a luxury swimwear brand – super swanky. However, visiting it for a fitting wasn’t the intimidating experience I was expecting. In fact, with the fitting team’s support and expert guidance I was converted from a lifelong bikini fan into a swimsuit wearer. While the price point of the one-piece I fell for is high, it is beautifully cut, managing to walk the fine line between sexy and a Love Island wannabe. Due to my small bust, the plunge at the front manages to be tasteful and it is counterbalanced by the lower legline and fuller brief – somehow managing to be sophisticated without being frumpy. Paired with linen trousers this swimsuit could realistically take me from beach to bar.
Visited Boux Avenue, London W1; booking not required but recommended.
When trying on swimwear the lighting can make or break the experience. Thankfully Boux knows this and its changing rooms offer three flattering light settings: day, dusk and nighttime. After measuring me, my fitter brought me a choice of designs. Although Boux’s swimwear doesn’t go down to 28in (my bust size) she showed me how if I went up to 30in and down a cup size, I’d still get the perfect fit, which she checked using Boux’s ‘Five Faithful Features’ (cup, centre front, underband, straps and wires). I really appreciated her honesty when it came to what suited me and, to her credit, every style I tried that she suggested looked better than the ones I would have picked. The bikini I chose was her bright idea – I love it.
Visited John Lewis Style Studio, London W1; for an appointment visit johnlewis.com
Tucked away from the bustle of the main store, the Style Studio didn’t only score points for its calm setting but for the glass of fizz on arrival. Its stylists also do their homework – before my appointment my personal shopper called to get my sizing and swimwear needs and so had a selection of designs all ready for me. After asking me to try my favourites first, she encouraged me to give styles I wouldn’t normally pick a go. Having a big bust, I’ve always felt ruching and bold prints weren’t for me. However, she showed me how these details can really flatter and smooth. Having her on the other side of the curtain to advise me helped me feel more positive about how I look in swimwear. In the end, thanks to her recommendation, I chose a ruched number.
Visited Beach Cafe’s online style advisors, beachcafe.com
This was the first time I’ve tried to nail the perfect swimwear via an online chatroom and it was surprisingly successful. After first establishing my style preferences, size and shape, they made suggestions based on my feedback and we drew up a shortlist of three, which I ordered. It’s a testament to Beach Cafe’s team that the bikini I ended up picking was spot-on in terms of proportions, cut and overall fit. Also, despite me still not being comfortable with my middle-aged body, when I looked in the mirror I felt that this bikini would up my confidence. Its bright coral distracts from the areas I’m self-conscious about and the style of the top evens out my pear shape. It’s a departure from my normal choice, but it works and that’s the skill of the fitting service.
Visited Nicola Jane Fitting Clinic, Chichester; booking not required but recommended. As well as fitting services at its Chichester and Leeds stores, Nicola Jane runs fitting sessions in hospitals, clinics and support groups throughout the UK, which are by appointment only; for further details, see the fitting clinic calendar at nicolajane.com
I had a mastectomy a few months ago and this is my first foray into post-surgery swimwear, which Nicola Jane specialises in. My fitting was a really friendly experience, which started with me being asked about my personal circumstances and the operation. After that the team explained the importance of getting the correct fit and how some costumes were more suited to my shape than others. In my case a prosthesis was going to be necessary and they showed great skill in finding the right match for me. Nicola Jane’s brochure is excellent, too, and once you have attended a fitting they hold your details on file, which makes ordering online really easy. The tankini I chose was perfect – my fitting team really knew their stuff.
Visited Debenhams, London W1; for an appointment go to debenhams.com
Debenhams has an overwhelming choice of swimwear, so it was great to have fitters Ros and Charity on hand to guide me. I was expecting swimwear personal shopping to be pretty scary but the girls put me at ease instantly and after measuring my bust to get the perfect fit – I’ve been wearing the wrong size of bra for years! – they recommended various styles. Sadly, as is often the case when I shop on the high street, although I found designs I liked, none was in stock in a tall size – I’m 5ft 11in with a long body. While it was disappointing not to buy anything, when I got home, following their style advice, I went online and found this cute asymmetric number with a pretty tie detail – in my size! So it wasn’t a totally wasted trip.