OVER THE last few years, swimwear - which used to mean bikini for all but the pudgy and the prudish - has been slowly returning to its roots, going backwards in time through the Fifties and the Thirties until, in some cases, bathing suits now resemble those last seen emerging from Victorian bathing machines. For most of us, the return of the generous one-piece has been a relief, and even for the lithest figures it has proved itself, curiously, more sexy and flattering than many a fiddly little bikini. This may not be the male view, of course, but maybe one can also deduce from the return of the bathing suit that women now no longer feel they have to provide a strip-tease, free, each summer, to every oily man on the beach.
Main picture: black strapless bandeau sarong swimsuit (87 per cent nylon, 13 per cent Lycra), pounds 65. Inset: black tunic swimsuit (as above), pounds 69; both by Jantzen from House of Fraser stores nationwide; Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1; Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1; Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, SW1. Opposite page: classic rubber bathing hat with strap, pounds 7.50, from Fenwick's, 63 New Bond Street, W1