The itsy-bitsy bikini's antithesis

WholesomeWear offers a line of tentlike beach garb.

Published July 14, 2006 6:51PM (EDT)

The bikini enters its golden years this month, with nary a hint of decline, but some would rather see it wheeled straight to retirement. Meet the bikini's antithesis: WholesomeWear. The Washington Post's Robin Givhan introduces us to this mishmash of nylon and bulky zippers, which targets women looking for modest beachwear and husbands interested in hiding all hints of their wives' womanly curves. The getup consists of a wet-suit underlayer covered by a slightly glamorized potato sack (available in the full spectrum of '80s-worthy neon colors), which helpfully negates any practicality and ease of movement one might associate with a wet suit.

"There are still people in this world who prefer modesty," Joan Ferguson told the Post. "So my son, his wife and daughter designed the product." Ferguson told the Post that the suits are meant to "highlight the face and not the body." Givhan bites back: "That may be true, but a woman is more than just a disembodied head. Why be fearful of the rest of her?" Indeed, the swimwear line seems more a condemnation of the wiles of a womanly figure than a caring accommodation of extreme modesty.

Still, Givhan points out, the suits are an appealing option for "older women who like to wear the suits for water aerobics, larger women who prefer more coverage poolside and women whose husbands like to act as fashion consultants." Of course, there are many options that fall between painful butt floss and bulky suits that look like an actual drowning hazard. And it's worth noting that our nation's wives don't seem concerned enough about their husbands' display of manly goods to warrant a WholesomeWear line for men.

Givhan trumpets the importance of beach confidence and shedding the muumuu for some "aerodynamic nylon and Lycra." Yes, confidence is a wonderful thing if you can summon it, but I say wear whatever it takes for you to comfortably hit the beach -- so long as it doesnt keep you from spiking a volleyball or, at the very least, staying afloat.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

MORE FROM Tracy Clark-Flory

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex