It started with an Instagram photo slipping innocently into my stream. Only this was no innocent picture. It was an enormously high-cut one-piece swimsuit with T-shirt sleeves to boot. Slashed so thinly on the model's bits that I wondered how there was room for her in there.
Surely, I thought, this must be @kellyoxford's (a New York Times bestselling author) idea of a retro joke?
Then another Instagram shot arrived from bona fide fashionista, @thebestozlemintheuniverse. This time, the sky-scraping bottoms were accompanied by suspenders. The kind you wear over you shoulder. The kind in Olivia Newton-John's Let's Get Phys-ical video. You know the ones I mean.
Now, I love Olivia, but I was incredulous, I mean, it's not, is it? The high-cut leg ... it's back?
You'd better believe it. The two girls posting the Instagram pics are cooler than cool, they are the barometers of style. People follow them just in case some fabulous happens to rub off (that's the thing about social media, you can pretend you're cool by association even if you aren't associated).
So I did a little research and, yes. I'm shocked to report that we should all get used to the idea of soaring legs on swimsuits, the likes of which are about to hit the northern hemisphere's shores like a raging tsunami (thankfully our summer's nearing an end, so we have a while to get used to the idea).
At the 2014 Miami Swim Fashion Week the high-cut leg was everywhere. You can tell the shape is new by the tan lines on the models' legs, which all end at hip height. But the swimsuits go higher, much higher than that.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised. The last few years have seen the return of the clog, shoulder pads, acid wash jeans, midriff tops and my favourite: white pointy heels which were always a sure-fire sign of a trashy Vegas party but are now the epitome of fashion.
All together they spell e-i-g-h-t-i-e-s. But even though we've seen just about every cringeworthy '80s trend resurrected, I honestly didn't expect this most unflattering garment that Jane Fonda favoured in shiny blue lycra (admit it, you had a workout video, I know I did) come back into play.
It's not all bad news, this craze can work on some. If you want to lengthen your legs, for example, it's great at stretching out every inch you have on those pins. And the accompanying high waist does mean you can cover up tummy skin that has seen better days (or years as the case may be).
The trick is to show off cleavage, so you can balance out the lower half. If it's a one piece, buy one with a low back so it adds shape to the curvature of your spine. And avoid styles that are so extreme they might disappear into your butt crack.
The most enduring image I have of a high-cut swimsuit is Elle Macpherson in her heyday, wearing a bright yellow one piece on the cover of Cleo magazine. Eyes away from camera, hair slightly wet, her athletic build the envy of every teenage girl alive. Did I go out and buy one? Hell yes. Would I buy one now? No fricking way. Two kids have given me a small thing called hips, something a high-cut leg is not so kind to.
But for the 20-year-olds who are all about embracing new trends with arms wide open, go forth and surrender to a look we all know is going to be as fabulous as it is fleeting. Who knows, you might be wearing banana clips and scrunchies soon too.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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