Competitive swimmer and actress Esther Williams in 1947 
Competitive swimmer and actress Esther Williams in 1947  © Alamy

Taking Million Dollar Mermaid Esther Williams as your swimming style cue is akin to dressing for the pool or beach as one might for dinner – that is to say, embracing all-out glamour. The Hollywood star of a spangly sweep of 1940s and ’50s swimming musicals did more than define a film genre. She set the bar for aquatics style – so much so that an entire contemporary bikini and bathing costume range is named after her (there’s even a gold version for those who’d like to go the full mermaid). Low in the leg and high in the waist, with bandeau-twist or halter necklines and ruched detailing, such styles “flatter the fuller figure” and give “the comfort and confidence a woman needs by a pool or on a beach”, says Pearl Lowe. The designer, who has recently released her own line of swimwear, swim-skirts and turbans inspired by voluptuous actresses including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jayne Mansfield and Diana Dors, leads the charge for a 1950s-inspired summer.

Bettylicious Esther Williams swimsuit, £74
Bettylicious Esther Williams swimsuit, £74
Bottega Veneta swimsuit, £370, farfetch.com
Bottega Veneta swimsuit, £370, farfetch.com
Lemlem Amira top, €145, and bottoms, €125
Lemlem Amira top, €145, and bottoms, €125
Pearl Lowe Daisy Liberty-print swimsuit, £195
Pearl Lowe Daisy Liberty-print swimsuit, £195
Norma Kamali Bill Mio swimsuit, £360, matchesfashion.com
Norma Kamali Bill Mio swimsuit, £360, matchesfashion.com
Cala de la Cruz Bimba bikini top, $150, and Elisa bottoms, $145
Cala de la Cruz Bimba bikini top, $150, and Elisa bottoms, $145
Lisa Marie Fernandez Poppy bikini, $395
Lisa Marie Fernandez Poppy bikini, $395
Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit, £475
Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit, £475

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