Question: what do the Wicked Witch of the West, cats and Insta models have in common? Answer: an aversion to water. This summer brings a new take on poolside posing – one that updates the classic Slim Aarons images of the jetset at the Hotel du Cap or David Bailey’s images of Marie Helvin in Hawaii in the 70s. Aarons and Bailey have women in gleaming with sunscreen, lying on loungers after a morning dip. The holidays of Instagram, by contrast, use summer as a backdrop, one to frame you just so.
Posing is this decade’s sport and young women such as Bella Hadid, Chanel Iman, Kendall Jenner and Joan Smalls excel at it. Sunshine, swimwear and sunglasses are the perfect storm to show off bodies worthy of insurance policies and a lifestyle that’s #alwaysonvacation. Jenner is a classic case study of how to do holiday posing now. In the past two weeks, she has posted five holiday-themed selfies, and remained dry – but swimwear-clad – in them all. She’s on the deck of a yacht with the inevitable pink flamingo inflatable. She’s on a jet ski at the shore. She’s doing “Legally Blonde vibes” with sister Kourtney Kardashian in matching metallic bikinis, the kind that likely come with a disclaimer about swimming in them on the label.
This current mood means summer style that’s primed to look fun and glamorous in a picture at the expense of any IRL concerns like tanlines or the ability of swimwear to survive 40 lengths. But dismiss such an attitude as mere digital narcissism at your peril. This trend is also going to make its mark on what you wear on those two precious weeks you get as holiday this summer: swimwear is increasingly designed to be worn around the pool rather than in it. Or no pool is required. This month, Kim Kardashian posted an image of her summer style inspo Cher wearing a bikini top and cover-up – beach-ready as the tabloids would call it – to an awards ceremony in 1974. Expect to see the Kardashian version of it on a red carpet soon.
Basically, the takeaway of all of this is that your poolside look needs updating, to show you’ve got a fun side. If summer is silly season, this is the silliest of trends. But it’s also irresistible – like a pool party, cocktail umbrellas or fancy dress. See cut-out swimsuits by Hunza G with a hole in the midriff, that look to make the oddest of tanlines, or cover-ups worthy of a Towie star in Marbs: all floaty chiffon and little actual cover. Swimwear is now ultra-glam rather than sporty. Elements more usually seen on Strictly dresses – embellishment, sequins, chiffon and velvet – are what you want. It’s these styles that are selling out on Asos, where buyers estimate only 70% of swimwear is actually used for swimming – presumably because wearing rhinestones, sequins and off the shoulder tops isn’t that compatible with doing the front crawl.
You’ll need the props to go with your poolside look. Jenner’s one beta note is her flamingo – the bird is over. It’s actually the unicorn inflatable set to decorate the most fashionable of pools this summer. Furniture, meanwhile, should be wicker or wooden, as seen in June Vogue. And do try to find yourself on a yacht deck at sunset won’t you? As these Instagram snaps testify, it makes the perfect summer set.