Bikini Meltdown (Confessions of a Swimsuit Addict)

No, this is not a lament about the toll this absurdly beautiful climate takes on your clothes. You can read about that dilemma here.

This is about something very different. Yet strangely the same. It is the troubling phenomenon of an otherwise laid-back Island Girl standing in front of the open doors of her closet and screaming to the universe (or her nearby dogs)…

“I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!”

As it unfortunately turns out, I was just being naive when I thought that wearing a bikini, shorts and a tank top on the daily would solve this wardrobe dilemma. I was wrong. Very wrong.

You see, when I landed on my rock, trading a bra for a bikini top was a simple practicality. I worked in a dive shop, so my “work” wardrobe consisted of (a) bikini, (b) board shorts and (c) crew t-shirt. Simple, no? Quite the change from the hour it used to take to get ready for my 8-5 office job back in the states. A good majority of that devoted to deciding what, exactly, I should wear to channel whatever mood I was in. Oh the frivolity.

Cher understands my dilemma.

And I embraced the simplicity of my new wardrobe.

After all, it took me all of 15 minutes from alarm clock to out the door. Especially helpful when the evening before involved copious amounts of alcohol and a late bedtime. Which is pretty routine on a rock. Even on a Tuesday.

And because of this simplicity, I never went back to anything but a bikini/tank top combo most days, even long after I retired my title as dive instructor. Frankly, it is also too damn hot here to be bothered with a cumbersome bra. It seriously has to be a special event (or government office visit) for me to pull out one of those dusty Victoria’s Secret relics.

Of course, my wardrobe – simple as it was and still is – quickly evolved into its own, unique bikini categorization system. Because I am nothing if not more than a little OCD.

In the simplest terms, I have three types of bikinis (within those types are sub-categories, but I’ll spare you my neurosis). Those for the many (work) days it seems unlikely I will be anywhere near a body of water (cheap & comfortable). Those for the days I am playing with friends where water may be involved (nicer & sport-friendly). And those for special occasions like holidays off my rock (expensive & totally impractical for anything but lounging on a poolside chaise). This is, if I do say so myself, a complicated yet maddeningly efficient system.

I once tried explaining my system to Island Boy, after he graciously put away my clean laundry and all the bikinis were mixed together. His eyes just glazed over. Seems guys here just have one category of board shorts. And it is called…board shorts. Strange.

But wearing a bikini on the daily brings its own set of issues. That I never expected. And I doubt I am alone in this dilemma. I suspect island girls ’round the world face this struggle, too.

Despite the mildly embarrassing fact that I have upwards of 50 bikinis as any given time (I DO live on an island, so this seems semi-justified), I only have two or three that I really like to wear. There are a host of reasons why many of my swimsuits never see the light of day. The tie around the neck is uncomfortable. The cup coverage (or lack thereof) is just begging for a wardrobe malfunction. The bottom is slightly too tight, accenting my real or imagined muffin top. The bottom doesn’t cover enough of my cellulite. The list goes on. And on. And on.

“High hopes, she’s got…high hopes. High apple pie in the sky hopes.”

The result is that, despite a copious selection, most of my swimsuits just gather dust. Or, get worn only in an emergency (a/k/a I didn’t do laundry yet).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for sympathy here. After all, this is a problem of my own making. Sort of. Online shopping does not lend itself to trying on a swimsuit before clicking “buy.” So I take my chances, somehow believing that the bikini I put in my shopping cart will look exactly the same on me as it does on the 17 year old bikini model. Hope springs eternal.

Also, I really hate trying on bikinis in general. I like to think at my age I know my style well enough that simply grabbing my size off the rack and hoping for the best will work. This strategy is not without its drawbacks. And occasional, expensive miscalculations.

Like the time I bought a super-pricey bikini in a boutique in London, and failed to try it on (something about the grey skies and 40F temps and layers of clothing I had on didn’t really put me in the bikini-wearing mood). But the bikini is beautiful. Truly stunning. Like French Riviera-style glamorous. It is also still sitting, unworn, on my closet shelf (in the special occasion pile, duh!)…waiting for (a) the perfect vacation and (b) me to lose approximately 25 pounds.

Which explains why every six months or so, I savagely tear through my bikini wardrobe and get rid of dozens of no-longer-wanted swimsuits. Some still with the hangtags on them. The resulting pile shames me for a moment, but then I move on and the vicious cycle begins anew. But whatever. Life is too short for regrets.

Plus, I just got an email notification that my favorite brand is having a flash sale. Now, where is my credit card?

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