x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Katie Trotter: Comfort is key to feeling good at the beach

Retro beach wear is the most fun, a way to appear stylish while not taking oneself too seriously – fundamental when it comes to beachwear

The best beach clothes are those that you can just throw on; anything pre-planned as such looks a little too contrived. I suppose it all boils down to the good old comfort over appearance thing, an age-old predicament. As UAE dwellers, you'd think we'd have our waterfront style down to a science. After all, we should, by now, have acquired more swimwear than socks, yet somehow the whole process still causes a fair amount of anxiety. Why? Simple, really: we look around too much. We compare - too fat, too thin, too podgy an upper arm, too mumsy, too tall, too short, too pale - you get the drift, boring as it is.

Let's face it, if I wrote a response to every woman that moaned about body issues, I would never get anything done. At all. I'd pace around the office, thumping desks at the whole, terrible waste of time and energy. You see, that ever confusing term "normal" when it comes to body shape is swung around far too breezily. Whatever conclusion we come to, we seem to cling to it, no matter how unobtainable. Everyone worries about swimwear (apart from the under-12s, or those few fortunate/unfortunate sods preternaturally determined to enjoy each and every part of themselves).This is fair enough, considering we are left to frolic around in the sand in nothing more than a few strips of Lycra, in front of more than a few faces we don't know. Like most things though, it doesn't have to be so painful; there are many ways to "cover up" or "go all out". We simply need to know what works.

Retro beach wear, for me, is the most fun, a way to appear stylish while not taking oneself too seriously (fundamental when it comes to beachwear). Despite the somewhat repellent name, the playsuit has become a significant fashion category in its own right. Try the shorts version with a cutoff sleeve to show off long, lean legs, or a loose, full-length playsuit that can be casually rolled up if your thighs aren't something to sing about. Try to avoid silk or chiffon that will get easily damaged in and around salt water. Instead, look for good-quality cotton that will breathe well in the heat. If you opt for a more easy-going feminine style, make sure to keep it low-maintenance. Go for a silhouette that allows movement and is easy to take on and off. A good solution is to knot a loose shirt over a bandeau bikini top and pair with a long, light skirt in a contrasting bright colour. Or keep it simple - jersey vest-dresses have a relaxed, airy feel, while cotton shirt-dresses are a great option for those who like to cover the upper arms.

Whatever you do - and trust me on this - avoid the dreaded kaftan. It only ends up appearing like some sort of giant "hide me quick" sack, drawing attention to the parts you are trying so desperately to conceal.

I know it's soul-destroying, but try on as many items as you can possibly bear in the changing room. It is utterly pointless to buy beachwear online; actually seeing its fit on your body will make all the difference. Stay well away from anything too fussy, such as complex fastenings, zips or anything embossed or embellished. Think simple, sleek and elegant, and remember to show off your best assets.

My advice: don't entertain the trends. Beachwear is not the time to play around with self-expression. To appear happy, we need to feel happy, which starts and ends with comfort.