It all started with a cruise. I packed my one and only black swimsuit and was off for a week of the western Caribbean aboard the Holland America Line's Ms. Nieuw Amsterdam.
Part One: (NVS) No Visible Swimsuit
The first stop was Grand Cayman Island. Below, drying off in the sun after the Dolphin Encounter. To emulate a wetsuit and protect my skin from the sun, I wore leggings and a black tee, with my swimsuit underneath. I had packed SPF 60, but was taking no chances with my pale skin.
Same idea at the Mayan Ruins. We'd been instructed to cover up against the mosquitoes and the sun. Thought I was the coolest kid, with my Converse All-Stars, yoga pants and striped, floppy sunhat. TYR black swimsuit, again, worn underneath in case an opportunity to swim came up.
My outlook was in for a big change. After snorkeling in Roatan, Honduras (one of the best places in the world to do so), I noticed that I was the only one who didn't have any new colour in my face. Everyone else looked fresh and alive. I looked like an out of place Goth girl. What to do?
Part Two: T-Y what?
I ditched the SPF 60, bought some 15 and 30 and ceased and desisted the "wetsuit" look. The attitude adjustment was almost complete: just add sun and surf...
TYR make a very nice "for real swimming" line of suits. My heretofore invisible black one was a "training suit" which meant it didn't feel or fit like a suit of armour and, had pretty crossed straps and a low cut in back.
Aboard the Catamaya catamaran, I added some fun earrings:
Part Three: Will that be Speedo or Nike?
Back in Toronto, where much to my chagrin, it was still winter, I went hunting for swimsuits. Sporting Life and Aquasport (of Montreal) were saviours.
I still had a prejudice, common to many serious swimmers, that suits had to be of the "speedo" type. Happily, I found that many of them were reversible, and, Nike in particular, was making some interesting styles.
My favourite new suit was a reversible Nike with very low cut back and sides as well as crossed straps in back. Below the watermelon pink (they call it siren red), reversible to a black and white abstract print.
Here, the solid black, reversible to red and black abstract print (the suit also comes in yellow and green versions). It is extemely comfortable to wear as well as to swim in, and dries quickly.
The straps can be easily flipped down, and the suit 'rolled' for sunbathing. The reverse side shows up as a contrasting band and creates an illusion of straplessness. If you need to swim or snorkel, turn it up again in seconds.
Not every purchase went so swimmingly. The neon pink, reversible to black Speedo brand suit, was too high in front---almost to the collarbone, scratchy, and had an awkward fit. It bunched and ballooned in the water. Even the skinny crossed straps in back couldn't save it. They felt tight and uncomfortable. Speedo called this suit "flower power". What a shame!
Part Four: Breaking Away
It was now March. I'd been to a few sunny destinations, with more planned. Seeing the sexy, pretty swimwear on the beaches had inspired me to look for something completely different.
The first suit that caught my eye was this strapless, ruffled mermaid look from H&M.
It took some serious nerve to wear this electric, lime green creation, which made for an interesting tan triangle on your chest. That said, I bought one in black as well. The 'retro' style was a lot of fun and a complete change.
It wore well, if a bit slow to dry. Upon discovering (accompanied by much booing and hooing) that I'd left it in Cuba, I raced out with only four hours sleep to buy another, when I returned to Toronto. This suit shall always be my 'Havana Lana' dubbed favourite.
Below, some pretty birds make the black one look less 'basic'.
By this time I'd become superstitious. I felt that each destination had to have a new swimsuit. The pickings were slim: finally I looked at the American Apparel online store, and, found a rare gem. Poppy red and black; geometrically cut and sewn; strapless.
The suit is comfortable, both in and out of the water and quick drying. It was the only one that got a compliment from the jaded girls at the Photo Shop (they see all the fabulous styles).
Part Five: A bit OCD about Bathing Suits
Finally the stores were beginning to get stock. H&M again proved to be a gold mine. They are reasonably-priced and stylish to a fault.
Below, a hot pink strapless suit from H&M that I just adore(d). Sadly it couldn't stand up to the salt water and hot sun of Mexico. It faded and the colour ran, so is presently enjoying an ill-deserved early retirement.
Conclusion: You've come a long way, speedo-baby!
One shouldered H&M purple suit with cut-out peek-a-boo sides. Makes for an interesting tan line (or inaugural sun BURN, if you're not ultra-careful). With funky leopard print sunglasses to carry along the theme, I called it "Sheena of the Jungle".
Photos taken in Grand Cayman Island, Mexico, Punta Cana DR and St. Maarten. The monkeys, toucan and parrots added colour and fun. Thanks to the photographers: Barbara, Julia, Alberto and Nico!.