Carola Long: The trouble with wearing a monokini is that it basically announces that you think you're Gisele

Material World

Barely a day – nay a minute – goes by without this paper's fashion desk receiving the results of a meaningless survey, along the lines of "100 per cent of women say that our moisturiser made them look 100 years younger". The latest "in-depth" study comes from the search engine Twenga, which reveals that the "monokini" is the fifth most searched-for type of swimwear on their site. The fact that the "legsuit", which sounds like something Queen Victoria might wear to do a triathlon, is number 10, doesn't do much for the credibility of this finding, but the challenging garment has admittedly been creeping back into fashion of late.

The monokini was first unveiled by futuristic fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, in 1964. Featuring bikini-style bottoms with two straps criss-crossing the breasts, it met with outrage and the Vatican deemed it immoral. These days, however, the monokini generally refers to a cross between a bikini and a swimsuit, and actually looks quite a lot like that stag-do accessory – and favourite attire of Borat – the "mankini". The trouble is that wearing a "cut-out swimsuit", as Net-a-Porter more elegantly bill versions by Missoni and Melissa Odabash, basically announces that you think you're Gisele. Still, if you practically are Gisele, Helmut Newton-style cut-out swimwear such as Roksanda Ilincic's new range can look amazing. Just stick to black or plain colours, unless you want to look like a magician's-assistant-turned-stripper.

Even if you'd rather appear on 'How to Look Good Naked' than wear a monokini, don't play it safe with a standard bra-shaped style. I hunted for one for two weeks before finally admitting that the swimwear universe had a message for me: be more daring. Asos's own brand has a great selection of affordable swimwear that strikes a good balance between flattering and cool, while Figleaves.com's own brand combines skimpy LA beach-bunny looks with hidden structure. Bandeaux that look ridiculously flimsy have secret underwiring and mesh to provide uplift and support, and halternecks are gently padded to provide uplift, but are not so sponge-like that they'll make you sink.

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