Is 40 Too Old For a Bikini?

When women of a certain age consider going from itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny to a one-piece

“I can think of tons of women over 40 who look better in a bikini than 98 percent of the women under 40 do!” said my friend B., when I asked her recently about her thoughts on how old is too old for a two-piece. It’s true: Like B., who’s as slim and pretty as Kate Bosworth, I know an inordinate number of women who’ve recently turned 40 but are in perfect physical shape. That’s because (unlike me) they do Pilates, yoga, and play tennis, and look fantastic in their skinny jeans—or in their bikinis.

So far this summer, I’ve avoided bathing suits, except for once on a beach in Florida where I didn’t know anyone, but with a couple of bikini-possible events looming, I looked in my drawer the other day and wondered: Is it time to find a one-piece that doesn’t look super-frumpy? (And, is it possible to develop abs in less than a week?) [SIGNUP]

Maybe swimwear is site-specific—if you’re with good friends at their pool, for instance, you can go bikini, but if you’re sandwiched onto a beach in Ventnor or at the pool at Congress Hall in Cape May, you should keep your caftan on. “What are your thoughts on muumuus?” I asked my husband, who didn’t look intrigued.

“I think it’s completely absurd you can’t wear a bikini over 40,” opines L., a Chestnut Hill friend. “Try telling that to a beautiful French lady in Saint Tropez. I say flaunt it while you can.” That seems to sum it up—in our 20s, we fretted over whether our bodies were sleek enough, while today, I realize any girl in her 20s or 30s looks fantastic in anything. In any event, I guess we should all load up on self-tanner and hope for the best.
“Did you see Helen Mirren pictured in her bikini a year or two ago?” adds L., who isn’t 40 yet, but is a kind defender of the right to wear small swimwear at any age. “She looked amazing. And she was 62.”