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PHOTO BY: Pierre Suu/Getty Images
En español | Here's the truth: Wearing a swimsuit is about as naked as we get in public. Even those of us trying to whip up a body-positive attitude in this situation do appreciate some backup. It's all about having choice. Most age 50-plus women and men do not have the toned and trim gym bodies of Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin — but even they clearly like a little camouflage. Here's how to hide in plain sight.
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PHOTO BY: Pierre Suu/GC Images; Zappos; H & M
1. Know how to tie a sarong with style. Toss the towel — it's not a substitute for a big, sensual scarf. Start with a nonslip, very lightweight fabric such as cotton or viscose that's about 67 by 67 inches, like the H&M Cotton Sarong ($25, hm.com) or Seafolly Cotton Gauze Sarong ($36, zappos.com). Hold the sarong behind you at either waist or chest level, depending on coverage goals. Grab the fabric on either side, about 12 inches from the sides of your body (not at the ends), knot the fabric and let the excess drape in graceful folds. Match your sarong to your suit or opt for a bright pop of color.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images; Target; H&M
2. Try a lightweight sheer caftan. It's got a global vibe and provides the illusion of coverage without being obvious — your silhouette will still be visible beneath the gauzy fabric. Look for one that's above the knee or long with side slits and wide sleeves, such as a dolman or kimono cut as in the H&M Kaftan With Buttons ($25, hm.com) or the Cover 2 Cover Black/White Caftan Cover-Up ($25, target.com).
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Gap; Ian Lawrence/GC Images
3. A midi skirt looks romantic and right. Cover up where you need it or want it only. Long midi and maxi skirts like the Gap Smocked Waist Midi Skirt ($63, size XS to XXL, gap.com) or H&M Long Skirt ($25, hm.com) make ideal camouflage if your body concerns are waist down. Look for easy pull-on styles with a drawstring waist or smocked waistband. Simply pull up the hem for some sun as you lounge. Add a wide-brimmed straw hat or tie a scarf in your hair, and you'll look fabulous and fearless.
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PHOTO BY: Iconic/GC Images; H&M; Old Navy
4. A long print dress is a multitasker. One minute you're strolling along the shore barefoot, next you're having lunch at a cafe or cocktails on the pier. Slip a ruffled summer style like Old Navy Ruffle-Tiered Waist-Defined Maxi ($40, sizes XS to XXL, oldnavy.com) or H&M Long Dress With Flounce ($25, hm.com) right over your suit, but then wear it solo for weekends and evenings away from the sand.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Target (2)
5. White lacy minis take beach chic to a new level. They offer a now-you-see-me, now-you-don't glimpse of what lies beneath. It's a sly way to show your shape and stay cool, thanks to those breathable perforated details in lace, crochet or eyelet. So much more sophisticated than your old oversized T-shirts. Pop one — like the Kona Sol Lace-Up Eyelet Cover-Up Dress ($23, size S to XL, target.com), H&M Cotton Beach Dress in White ($50, size XS/S, M/L, hm.com) or Xhilaration Crochet Cut-Out-Back Cover-Up Dress in White ($20, size S to XL, target.com) over a white tank with jeans, and you have a sizzling look that works for day or night.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3): Iconic#All; Nigel Hallett/Newspix; Europa Press/Europa Press
6. Guys benefit from a simple white shirt. Sleeves rolled, unbuttoned to there, it has a James Bond-like feeling that makes a hot day hotter, in a good way. A fresh, white, untucked shirt in a relaxed fit looks icy clean topping a swimsuit — though it reflects light so that you stay unflappable. Try linen or a linen blend and let it rumple for a contemporary effect. It's perfect for guys sensitive about chests and bellies. Keep the emphasis on your colorful swim trunks and shades, like Dolph Lundgren.
7. A black tank can also be a man's BFF. A black high-neck cutaway tank top looks edgy paired with swimsuits or board shorts. It emphasizes toned arms and minimizes what you want to disappear.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3): Isabel Infantes/PA Images (center)
8. Not every beach day is a swim day. You might not be flopping on the sand or a lounge chair. Maybe you're just sitting on a deck, or having a burger with your chums, or playing beach volleyball or soccer. Sure, you might take dip (so wear a swimsuit under your outfit), but give what you wear some thought. Neon tanks, T-shirts and rash guards are the way to go. Pair them with basic shorts, cutoffs or any neutral, from stripes to plaid or checks.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter
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