Remember that summer sensation when if you’re not barefoot or wear more than a swimsuit, you feel overdressed? It’s that time of the year again and the feeling is back – fresh, giddy, and blithe. And totally unexpected in the bleak context. Scrolling through the resort styles for this article, I was relieved to see how light-hearted and fun was the seasonal fashion spirit and let myself be carried away guilt-free by its undeniable joie de vivre.
Because I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of this world’s relentless unfolding drama. I spent the last few years like everybody else – overwhelmed by the emotional ebb and flow of the breaking news and torn apart by each new wave of shootings, fires, floods, economic distress, pandemic, anguish, and, recently, war. Right before starting my research for the swimwear trends of this summer, I exercised my fashion eye on sorting donated clothes by age and appropriateness for the Ukrainian refugees. It came to a point where I realized that taking a healthy break from the endless drama was not just welcome – it was mandatory. And summer is the best season for learning to enjoy life again, for respite and healing.
This summer is also about regaining confidence, about feeling ready once more for life’s experiences, now more challenging than ever before. When models strutted down the runways to introduce us to the summer fashion styles of 2022, they all had an added pep in their step, a nod to the energy and magic of the 1980s. And many of the shows had swimsuits on the catwalk – a comeback of the survivor spirit, something that we haven’t seen in the last few seasons. We got the message fast: swimwear is back and bigger than ever before – a promising surprise, radiating poise and optimism.
Clear enough, for the following months, the clothes we live in are skimpy in the best way possible, as swimwear is the du jour ready-to-wear. We get to sport a fine one-piece swimsuit paired with shorts, a full-circle tulle skirt, a sarong, straight jeans, or capri pants, as daywear while running our errands far away from the beach. Or, we throw together this shirt unbuttoned with that silhouette-hugging one-piece and have the perfect solution to being the best dressed on the seashore.
The one-piece is a classic swimsuit option, either in the halter style with a scoop back and waist tie details, or strapless with cutouts, particularly the side ones, which can do wonders for the wearer. Another choice is a low-cut one-piece with a deep-V neckline as the defining design element, easy to wear with everyday clothes and memorably with a semi-sheer coverup. Also, in a blissful nod to the 1990s, we get to enjoy the Baywatch high-cuts that serendipitously elongate legs and versatile end-use swimsuits, which are most flattering on all body types and from all angles.
Another must-trend to consider is belted swimwear. And we talk about actual belts accessorizing bikini bottoms all over the runways, illustrating a part of our subliminal need for structure and containment that cannot be denied.
As if it can’t be ignored, our hunger for living fully again, with sparkle and panache, is back. That’s why glitz, glamour, and shine are omnipresent in the swimwear arena. Bold gold jewelry like chunky chain necklaces, hoop earrings, or buckles hold swimsuits together and grace the body as well. Glitter is very much back on the beauty radar – streamlined, versatile, and über-easy to apply, in eye or body make-up, adding a touch of luxury to the shiny and the silky velvety finishes on the swimsuits.
Notably scarce are patterns of any kind. We get to wear buoyant swimwear, ribbed and ruched, with gratifying ruffles and deluxe accessories but in solid colors. Color is everything. No plaid, no polka dots, no striking flowers, no stripes; very few geometrical patterns – mostly circles – and some small round florals are the only departure from the solid color norm.
This summer, all we need is tender loving care and cozy, confident comfort all around. No one can blame us for craving it. For we’ve been through the mill for a long while and haven’t recovered yet. It takes time and it takes patience. We need comfort so much that we bring it even to our footwear. Pillow-plush sandals are a new emerging trend, together with the air-force platforms, chunky flatform sandals, and the barely-there sandals in the brightest hues. Practical heel widths, sensible heel heights, woven cage sandals, and classic staples like ballet flats, in satins and shearlings with feminine details like lace-up straps, are statements of this season. We can play dress-up with retro Mary Janes in quintessential patent leathers with heel heights for everyone.
In terms of make-up, the beauty trends from the 2000s are having a moment on the catwalks, with glossy lips; wet look; artsy, edgy, and excessive eye-liners; and all-over glitter, making the Y2K aesthetic the must-have look of 2022. All the fun, blingy, and sexy of the period is coming back to match the micro skirts, visible thongs, and low-waist pants we have already talked about at length.
Hair, also, obeys no rules this summer. Everything is game – braids are back, as is ‘70s volume, and every hair color, as well as every hair accessory – from beaded barrettes and tiaras to botanical clips (slipped into buns), ribbon bows, and neo-scarves. A big, super-luxe, glossy, bouncy blowout is a nice attempt to socialize again after two years of on-and-off lockdowns. It’s noticeably important to take into account the mixie cut with full texture, as well as the French bob with on-trend curtain bangs for a low-maintenance style.
The accessories market is booming after the pandemic, with rises in bag sales and growing interest in investment bags from heritage brands, which continue to produce their signature styles – an accessory trend influenced by the rise of the virtual, secondary, and resale markets.
After two years of keeping a low profile, the handbags are back in business big time, from diminutives shapes, including reworked classics in poppy colors, to squishy, slouchy shapes, including XXL clutches, at the other end of the scale.
Unlike the novelty micro bags that were trending a few seasons ago, the dinky bags for summer 2022 are a nod to practicality. Post-lockdown life means also being ready to party, with chain-adorned and dancefloor-ready bags. Other styles brought to the front are the rainbow knitted pouches, the woven baskets, and the crafty creations ready for the beach.
It’s visible how hard we are trying to get back to normality. We’d like this summer to be cathartic; we’d like to open the long-awaited passage to what was once familiar – fun and joy and livable and worthy. We are emotionally exhausted and the all-around drama doesn’t give us any sign of a ceasefire. Pressed for what seems like ages now to fight, survive, and overcome the disasters, by mastering the sink or swim attitude – we did our best. We still do.
But we are tired and long for a break. Much as we crave our lives back, we are willing to move on and accept what’s in the cards for us. To sink has stopped being an option a long time ago. Surviving may be messy; it may be ugly. It’s surely scary and tough. Still, we are ready to swim champion-style, for swimming is not only survival – it’s healing and rejuvenating, in searching for the truth.
There may come a time when we give up on swimming, thinking we’ve finally reached the desired shore. Summer will turn into fall unavoidably. We’ll find our new normal sooner or later and settle for it. For now, though, picking up a swimsuit that inspires us to plunge in at the deep end and go further has a powerful symbolic value. Because swimming, much like our eternal inner summer, will be there for us long after we hang up our goggles.
Thank goodness, we can never give up on what we really love.