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If you’re feeling less than confident, fear not, maillots - one-piece costumes - are the chicest way to  hit the beach this summer, says Emma Akbareian

Bathing suits have traditionally suffered from a rather bad  reputation. Think utilitarian swimsuits in unflattering shapes better suited to doing laps at the local pool then sipping cocktails by the sea, or those iconic fiery-red  Baywatch styles, cut far higher  on the thigh than necessary to  address either comfort or decency. With the emergence of a new crop of swimwear labels and edgier designs, however, the one-piece is enjoying something of a revival.

Former fashion stylist Lisa Marie Fernandez has been making waves in the market since she launched her debut collection in 2009. Her signature style of athletic designs featuring statement zips, bold colours and neoprene fabrics is heavily inspired by scuba gear. In stark departure from the skimpier one-pieces available, the demure nature of her designs manages to strike just the right balance between figure-flattering  and revealing.

Similar success has been  enjoyed by French label Eres, which has built a loyal customer base with its sleek and sexy take on luxury swimwear. London-based designer Roksanda Ilincic may be best known for cocktail dresses and evening wear, but she has also turned her hand to swimwear: this season’s collection is a highly covetable range of sporty styles in the colour-blocking she does so well.

Clever panels that hold you in and create a smooth silhouette are appealing for the obvious reasons – there’s nothing like stripping off in front of a beach full of strangers to make most of us self-conscious.

It’s no surprise then that sales of one-pieces have soared above those of their itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny two-piece counterparts – eBay has reported a 110 per cent increase in sales.

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