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August is almost upon us, the weather is (still) sweltering, and it is the time of year when middle aged women turn their thoughts to their...

I may be 54 - but you won't catch me hanging up my bikini just yet

August is almost upon us, the weather is (still) sweltering, and it is the time of year when middle aged women turn their thoughts to their beach wardrobe. The question is not so much jewelled sandals or Havaianas, but that eternal quandary: bikini or one-piece? 

Are you the type of woman who, in pursuit of beach respectability and a nod to increasing flabbier flesh, heads straight to the cossie department and purchases a selection of sensible swimsuits? Or do you say ‘heck no,’ and grab an armful of day glo bikinis in a bid to stay on-trend? 

I am firmly in the second camp – and I have no intention of ever hanging up my itsy bitsy. Since I first purchased a brightly patterned two-piece at the age of 16 on holiday in Italy, I have always opted for the flimsy '70s style. 

What I find bewildering is society’s unspoken rule which dictates that 30 is the absolute cut off point for wearing one.

It is not that I am stuck in sex appeal denial. I am aware that my days of looking flawless in a bikini are well and truly over: at 54, like most women, my body has changed, with middle aged spread and saggy bottom syndrome being just two of the hard to tackle areas. 

But that doesn’t mean I have to shrink into the hinterland of the M&S cossie section. Hell no. If you want to rule the beach, you need to own your wobbly bits – whatever the bikini police might think. 

I am not hankering after Elizabeth Hurley-style physical perfection - who has the time or, frankly, the inclination - and I have no intention of uploading a bot-shot to Instagram. 

No, my bikini love affair is less about narcissism, and more about attitude: it is liberating, makes me feel sexy and fun, and says I am confident enough to flash the flesh, whether I’m 25 or 55. 

Yet for some reason British women have a fraught attitude to their bodies, especially on holiday, where our collective cellulite anxiety usually manifests in a series of ill-fated sarong purchases to cover up any sight of dimpled flesh.

Our European friends feel somewhat differently. Go to any Mediterranean beach and you will see all generations of women: grannies happily walking along the shore, overweight aunties tucking into plates of picnic grub and groups of young women chatting in the sea - all wearing an array of bikinis, unabashed about their bodies and quite frankly, looking pretty damned good. 

So how do us Brits know where to stop on the bare-o-meter? You only have to go swimwear shopping - two words to strike fear into the hearts of any middle aged woman - to know that nowadays there are so many choices, you might as well give up and go to Skegness. 

Playing it safe with the high waisted two piece is ageing, in my opinion: the big bikini pants may cover up the stomach, but they do not deny its existence. And all that Lycra is not only unsufferably hot, but highlights the wearer's lack of body confidence. Better to embrace the one-piece and be done with it. 

With that in mind, there are a few simple rules that I swear by, the first of which is to always keep the style simple. No ruffles, sequins or flouncy skirt things – they just look fussy and overdone.

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