String bikinis – adored by the seventies – have traditionally been the preserve of the young and lithe; Two triangles of cloth are tied, like shoelaces, on the upper thighs, with a matching bra top similarly secured.
Those who want something a little tougher when they strip down to the beach have long since opted for something more substantial – a two-piece with pants that Bridget Jones would approve of.
However, a debate is raging this summer, as two styles dominate high street sales – with the 1990s Burberry check string bikini proving particularly popular – which are actually the most flattering, especially for women of more advanced years.
Famous bikini lovers – with great physiques – including Davina McCall, 55, Demi Moore, 60 and Elizabeth Hurley, 58, have all donned the string bikini – or ‘tie-up’ as it’s known – in recent weeks.
However, what do real women, who may not have the luxury of a personal trainer or personal chef, think they look like in a skimpier version? Here, we ask four women of different ages to try out both styles and tell us what they think…
The tie up is back! Davina McCall (pictured), 55, and Demi Moore, 60, have both recently been pictured wearing string ones, and the queen of the bikini, Elizabeth Hurley, turned 58 last month and celebrated with a selfie of herself on the beach in a bright blue one. string bikini…
‘After uterine cancer and six operations, my body confidence was so low – but I’ve learned to love my body, and men love my curves!’
Former cafe owner Claire McCauley says the health battle has given her a new-found body confidence
Claire McCauley, 52, is now medically retired but used to run her own cafe in Deptford. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer and underwent a radical hysterectomy. An infection developed and he was forced to endure months in the hospital and six major abdominal operations.
She told FEMAIL: ‘After my illness, I thought I’d never even wear a bathing suit, I have such low body confidence – I thought my scars would scare children!
‘However, over the past few years, I’ve really learned to love my new body shape, belly folds and scars. The boyfriends I’ve had since my cancer treatment also love my post-menopausal body. My breasts have grown and men really like curves and flesh!’
SKIMPY: Madeira Cherry Diamante Triangle Bikini Top, Red Mix by Boux Avenue (bouxavenue.com), £28
I probably needed a size up in this one, it was small-fitting. My first thought? Barbara Windsor in Carry On Camping! And, honestly, wearing those skimmy briefs reminded me of the late Peter Stringfellow and his famous posing pouches.
Former cafe owner Claire McCauley, 52, says she had cervical cancer – and six major operations – six years ago… and she now embraces her scars and her curves
Picture of Claire in Box Avenue string bikini; He admitted it reminded him of the famous Barbara Windsor sketch from Carry On Camping
Worth: High waisted bikini in cobalt blue, Box Avenue, £22
This bright blue bikini was great – although the briefs didn’t sit where I wanted them to – they could be either above or below the belly but felt more like a regular knicker fit. There was great support above though!
Beach ready: Claire loved this cobalt blue bikini for its great support around the bust – although the bottoms felt like a knicker fit, she added.
Yes to blue, shall I wear red? Yes, but only if I stayed in a private villa to maximize tanning opportunities.
‘As an Asian woman I don’t always think bikinis are for me…’
Minrit Kaur, 42, is a journalist from Harlington, South West London.
She told FEMAIL that she ‘doesn’t usually wear a string bikini when I’m on holiday or even in the gym pool here in the UK’.
Minrit added: ‘I find tie-ups expose too much skin and I don’t think they suit my body shape. I also think as an Asian woman it’s hard to be so open – I can feel a bit shy.’
SKIMPY: Mango tie-up bikini by Blonde the Label (blondeththelabel.com), £48, and Summer in Capri bikini by Gotex at UK Swimwear, £149.99 (ukswimwear.com)
Too revealing: Minrit first tried on a mango tie-up bikini by Blonde the Label but said she felt self-conscious wearing it
The first one I tried was Blonde The Label’s Mango Tie Up. It was not a success. I found it too big and too hard to wear, too revealing and I felt it was exposed and it was loose.
Not something I’d wear on holiday as it’s too flimsy and I’d feel too self-conscious. You have to fasten it properly and it would really make me feel crazy if I wore it if it wasn’t properly fastened. That said, it’s a very nice color but not the right style for me. I prefer something less revealing and more elegant.
The second one I tried on – Gotex’s Summer in Capri – wasn’t strictly a string bikini, but it still felt uncomfortable – I thought at first it would reveal too much skin.
It’s fitted nicely though, and I loved the colorful pattern on it, and since the straps aren’t too thin, it’s a bit more covered than you’d think. The top came with padding.
Kay, a journalist from Harlington, South West London, tried on Gotex’s second bikini in a swimsuit that was a lot skimpier than she usually wears – but proved a hit.
The Capri Bikini Summer Two-Piece by Gotex retails for £149.99 at UK Swimwear
I don’t wear bikinis because I always think they are too revealing, but after wearing this I fell in love with the feel of it, it was so comfortable. I felt the material was soft, it didn’t bother me or feel too tight, and it was perfect for vacations or the pool.
Worthy: Red high-waist bikini set by Gotex at UK Swimwear (ukswimwear.com)
Sports: Minrit said she liked the fit of the second bikini and felt it was more flattering
Verdict? She liked both designs – but the big pants were more flattering, she thought
Wearing a maroon bikini with big pants worked really well; It was comfortable and perfectly fitted. I felt this style was really flattering.
The overall look and feel of this bikini was nice, the color was lovely and I didn’t think it was too revealing. I would definitely wear it on holiday or to a pool here in the UK.
I really like both bikinis and both styles. I usually wear thick strap bikinis but after trying both styles I think I’m happy to wear both!
As an Asian woman I don’t always think bikinis are for me and I’ve always seen very few styles but these looked elegant and definitely different from what I’ve seen so I’ll wear them without feeling ashamed. Embarrassing because they don’t reveal much skin and they’re stylish and chic.
‘I have no problem pulling out a string bikini whenever I get the chance. My friends can confirm that!’
Angie LeBruyn, 58, from Dulwich, works in a technology department and teaches holistic yoga IT. She says she’s learned to embrace positive stereotypes about aging and prioritize keeping active, taking care of herself and saying ‘yes’ to life.
She told FEMAIL: ‘I have no problem breaking out in a string bikini whenever I get the chance. My friends can vouch for this.
‘I feel incredibly confident and comfortable in my own skin, there’s no reason I can’t rock a two-piece bathing suit regardless of my age. I am a great believer that a woman can look and feel her best in a bikini. Confidence shines from within.’
SKIMPY: Orange string bikini (model’s own)
Angie LeBruyn, 58, from Dulwich, works a job teaching fitness and pilates in a technical department in central London; She says the string bikini has always been one of her favorite styles
Angie says she’ll usually opt for a tie-up bikini – so how does she go about with a big two-piece?
This bikini was a gift, I think it was bought from Accessorize a few years ago…and this style of swimwear has always been one of my favourites.
The bottoms are sexier and more flattering than traditional bikini bottoms. I personally feel they provide a fantastic fit and look great on any body shape.
Although I’m always careful with string ties, I’ve had accidents in the past and exposed way more than I needed to!
Worth: Space High Neck Underwired Cami Top and Waist Control Brief Ultramarine by Pour Moi, £52.00 (pourmoi.co.uk)
A fan! Angee said she loved the electric blue color of the two-piece she tried on
The fitness fan, 58, described the Pour Moi two-piece top as ‘incredibly comfortable’
I absolutely love the design and style of this bikini. The top has a sporty feel, so great for volleyball or other beach games. I am very sporty so fell in love with the practical nature of this design.
Normally, I wouldn’t choose this style, this is my first time wearing this type of bottom but I’m hooked.
Bottoms are super comfortable and great if you want a tummy-covering option. The top also feels exceptionally comfortable, very flattering for my broad shoulders and I love the color to my skin tone.
It’s hard to decide which one to choose because they both work in different ways – but I think the string bikini suits both my shape and personality.
‘String bikinis offer a better fit as you can easily adjust them…’
Videographer and model Alicia Watts, 28, from London, is a size 6-8 and says she ‘almost always’ wears a string bikini on holiday.
She told FEMAIL: ‘I’ve learned to be grateful for my body because I have people who are less fortunate and can’t use their bodies the way others do – walking, dancing etc.
‘I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice mindfulness – a tip I always like to give to others, if I don’t tell it to a friend I don’t tell it to myself.’
SKIMPY: Alicia’s own strappy bikini
Adjustable…but Alicia says although string is her preferred option when it comes to bikinis it can ‘expose’ her sensibilities.
I think string bikinis are generally very flattering and a good style to prevent tan lines. I think that a tie-up gives the perfect fit for anyone as you can make it as tight or as loose as you want it to be comfortable.
The only problem I have with this style of bikini is if the ties come loose – but that rarely happens, especially if you get a good quality material and you fasten it well.
I’m also a bit wary of being a bit ‘exposed’ as it has less material, I think I’d think twice about it if I was wearing it on a family holiday.
Worth: Brussels fuchsia pink bikini by Melissa Odabash, £256 (odabash.com)
Transformed! Alicia says the more substantial bikini was a surprise hit. Right: He added that he liked the fact that the bottoms would be great for sports on vacation
I was pleasantly surprised with this bikini. I love the halter neck style tops and the bottoms are so comfortable. Bikinis are a bit more covered and practical but still make me feel confident.
I rarely wear bikini bottoms like this but now I wonder why! The material is soft and stretchy and covers my bottom – perfect for any type of vacation and/or water activity.
I love bikinis and both styles. I usually go for a string bikini but after trying the second style I think I might be converted!
It’s super comfortable and flattering at the same time. I love the bold fuchsia color and the top is a perfect style for going out with a pair of shorts – I love bikini tops doubling as a simple top.
Bottoms feel comfortable and more secure, especially for swimming. This is one I will grab first from now on.
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