What not to wear: Mediterranean resort version


So … you want to make a splash on a Mediterranean beach? Yeah, you could go topless – yawn — or wear one of those weird butt-floss bottoms, ouch. But do you know how to really cause a sensation? Wear the L.L. Bean Swim Jogger. Trust me; I know.

It all began innocently enough. There comes a time in every mother’s life when she realizes: I really cannot be half naked when I take my children to the neighborhood pool because I may very well run into the parents of my little darlings’ friends. Awkward. So, first you move up to the tankini, which is more or less a substantial bikini bottom with a camisole. Then you sashay a little further into Frumpyland with the “full coverage tankini with tummy control,” because, believe you me, those tummies can get as unruly as speakers at a Berkeley City Council meeting. Maybe you flirt a little with the “skirted bottom” which sounds kind of frisky but actually translates to “a yard of clammy, cold material flapping over your goose-pimpled thighs.” But sooner or later you bow to fate and succumb to the Swim Jogger, a pair of quick-drying nylon shorts with a sturdy tank top capable of holding in and holding up whatever needs to be held in or up.

So, when I knew I’d be visiting a beach resort in Madeira with only a carry-on for luggage, I figured the Swim Jogger would be perfect. Sure, it’s billed as providing “all day coverage and comfort” and comes in sizes up to 18, but what did that matter? You can swim in it, jog in it, plus it has pockets! (This is what happens when you spend 20 years living in the anti-style capital of the world, friends.)

Getting to Madeira from San Francisco turned out to be a 25-hour slog, so I was thrilled to find my journey ended at a fabulous oceanfront resort with not one but two infinity saltwater pools overlooking the sea. (Saltwater pools: all the fun of the ocean without any of that icky ocean-y stuff.) It was clear I needed to be in said pools pronto and so I jumped into my suit — Black Lined Shorts, Regatta Blue Scoopneck (scoopneck in a Maine kind of way) Top, if you’re interested — and headed out.

And that’s when it happened.

Suddenly I found myself the cynosure of all eyes in a way that hasn’t happened for … let’s say some years. A German couple I encountered did a simultaneous double take and started muttering to each other.  “Altmodisch!” – that means high fashion, right? And I thought another lady’s head was going to twist right off it spun around so far. To be honest I was kind of fascinated by her outfit, too. In my opinion, she could have used a bit more scaffolding to hold up her, let’s say, riper charms.

More discreet pool-goers just gave me the side-eye as I splashed happily about, comfortable and fully-coveraged. I admired the view and swam a few laps — Did I mention I was wearing my blue latex cap and goggles? If you’re going for a look, embrace it is my motto. And then one of the pool attendants approached, waving to get my attention and calling out “Lady, lady.” “I knew it,” I thought exultantly. “He wants to know where he can get his girlfriend one of these babies.” “Yes?” I said brightly.. “Lady,” he said, “please, the pool is closed.”

Cheers, swimmingly.