Who’s looking forward to a holiday? I certainly am. As soon as the dreaded exams are over, we’ve decided to have a summer of fun with the boys so I have a few different things to plan for. We’re aware that with one finishing school and the other graduating there may not be another stretch of unplanned time like this so we’re going to make the most of it. In the meantime though it feels like eat, sleep, revise, repeat (well at least they appear to be revising). GCSEs started yesterday, university finals begin on Saturday (which is a weird day for an exam) but A- levels are still a little way off. Good luck to everyone else who’s living through it – this time of gritted teeth will soon be over!

Anyway let’s think about happier times ahead. Today I’m working with John Lewis & Partners in the first of my holiday planning posts. My focus is their new swimwear, beach and holiday packing packing collection which has been carefully curated so that you can pack without thinking. I’m going to start with swimwear because it can be difficult to buy. If you’re not sure where to start, I did an in depth post on the best swimwear for your bodyshape after 40 last year so maybe it’s best to read that first.

So, there are 130 pieces in the new own label range consisting of bikinis, tankinis and swimsuits along with matching and contrasting beachwear. Each piece has been designed as an extension of the core John Lewis & Partners womenswear collection that we’ve discussed here already. In my view there are three factors that really make this collection stand out so I’m just going to talk through those quickly before we go on to see how everything works together.

The fit

This isn’t a range that has been bought in from a wholesaler, it’s been developed from scratch. The team at JL&P began by appointing lingerie technologists to work on the nitty gritty of the range and they’ve brought in their experience of women’s bodies and the different challenges that they can face. So there are three levels of support linings: light, medium and firm. A lot of attention has been paid to supporting the bust with side boning and under bust support. Some designs offer cup sizes going up to a FF and back straps that have been cleverly worked in as a sporty design feature.

Taking fit a step further they’ve also focused on texture. You may have noticed that a lot of the designer swimwear brands use textured fabrics. It’s a trend at the moment but there’s also good thinking behind it. One of the reasons I veer away from one pieces is because when smooth lycra stretches over your body it glistens in the sunlight, enhancing any rounded bits like tummy and thighs. To date the only way round this has been ruching which can look frumpy. Textured fabrics solve the problem – the finish is matte and along with the support lining, lumps and bumps are smoothed over.

The colour ranges

As you know, the John Lewis & Partners clothing range has colour blocking at its core. To make packing easy, the buying teams across swimwear and clothing have worked together to ensure that the same tones are used across all pieces so that you can plan a complete holiday capsule in one shopping session.

Iain Ewing, Design Manager explains it like this

“we’ve developed tools not rules within the collection that can be used to create different looks. For instance, we use colour in a way that is very adaptable. We concentrate on 3 colour palettes that have a strong leaning towards one colour, so a predominantly blues group, reds group and greens group. We then make sure that there are a multitude of tones in each of these stories so that pieces can be combined either together in a tonal way or by mixing across the colour stories for either a complementary or clashing colour look.”

If you aren’t a fan of colour, there’s a similarly adaptable collection of neutrals.

The detail

Every detail has been considered. Metal trims glisten but they’re heat resistant so they won’t scorch you when the sun gets hot. Lycra XtraLife fabrics have been used to withstand chlorine, ensuring the pieces last longer. Some styles include hidden construction to smooth the body including tailored seaming, full underwiring and padded support as in the green Tropicana range below. And tonal beachwear has been thought through so that you can go straight from beach to bar as you can see here.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing

  • Bikini top: fully supportive with underwires and smooth foam cups that go up to a size F. This gives enough support for it to be worn as a bandeau with the straps tied at the back if preferred.
  • Bikini bottoms: a fold over top so that you can adjust the fit to your optimum ‘break point.’ Gently ruched sides allow for full coverage at the rear whilst still giving a higher angled cut at the leg which has a lengthening effect.
  • Swimsuit: a medium control lining with a waist defining belt for that Ursula Andress effect. The sporty squared scoop at front and back are balanced for figure enhancing symmetry.
  • Kaftan: breathable viscose, the different shades mean that this would work with tonal greens such as khaki as well as neutrals or contrasting colours. The twist front draws it in at the waist giving good figure definition.
  • Maxi skirt / dress: this is designed to be worn either as a knee length bandeau dress or as a midi-skirt with dipped hem. You could pull it on over the swimwear on the beach or team it with a white t-shirt in the evening.
  • Dress with asymmetric hem: another piece in fine ribbed jersey that doesn’t crease and can be dressed down by the pool or dressed up for the evening (bear in mind there is some transparency)

See the complete green toned collection here.

Moving on, let me show you how the colour capsules work together across the womenswear department. I’m not doing a try-on this time – pictures of my winter body in a changing room just didn’t capture the mood(!) so I’m planning it out for you instead. However I can report that the fit is as good as they say it is – and the pieces with support lining really do the job (allow an extra few minutes for loo breaks though). The website advises you to size up on some of the firm control styles so read it carefully.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing – based on navy

Navy is always a good idea for a seaside holiday and this is a capsule for anyone who likes to be in harmony with their surroundings. Should you happen to be invited for a few days in the South of France, I’ve done the hard work for you.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing

L-R, top to bottom

  • Striped one piece: the design of this really pleases me, vertical stripes to slim from the ribs down and horizontal to flatter the bust – don’t panic though, the deep plunge ensures that all embonpoints are flattered. A medium support lining and adjustable cross back straps do more of the figure enhancing work.
  • Bikini top: (also available in red and pink) lovely textured fabric and colourblocking that cleverly conceals the engineering work that has gone into this top. Gripper tape around the band ensures that it doesn’t rise up at inopportune moments and you can adjust the straps to tailor it to your body.
  • Bikini bottoms: complete the set, these have been designed for plenty of bum coverage with exposed sides that lengthen the leg. I always buy a size up on styles like this to ensure that the band doesn’t dig in to any soft flesh.
  • Kaftan with guipure lace panel: (also available in black or white): breathable viscose, this is a loose style with a deep V in a creaseproof crinkle fabric. Cut longer at the back than the front for extra coverage.
  • Slub cotton t-shirt: (lots of colours available): the perfect V – wide but not low, this simple cotton t-shirt comes in lots of colours
  • Navy sunglasses: these sunglasses have a 3N rating, the highest tint for wearing in bright sunshine. They’re also reinforced so will withstand life at the bottom of your beach bag.
  • Leather Sandals: (also available in tan) classic toe post sandlas with a contoured footbed for extra support
  • Linen cropped trousers: (also available in grey, yellow or white): with safari style topstitching, these trousers have an elasticated panel at the back of the waistband to ensure a good fit
  • Navy linen dress: one of my holiday favourites, you can see this dress on me in the top picture and it’s cool to wear, the handkerchief hem gives it shape and structure. True to size.
  • Jute shoulder bag: a simple jute bucket bag with a leather strap for day trips or evenings out
  • Earrings: lovely geometric earrings in a brushed gold finish
  • Cabin case: (also available in yellow, pink or black) the perfect size for taking on board with you, this cabin case has a 10 year guarantee
  • Fedora: a touch of chic in a relaxed style with a frayed denim trim

You can see the full tonal blue holiday collection here.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing – based on red, pink and orange

I find that if I’m going somewhere hotter, I turn to reds, pinks and oranges, they always feel good in a sun scorched landscape.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing

L-R, top to bottom

  • Bikini top: lingerie engineered with a full range of cup sizes, this bikini top has detachable straps so you can also wear it as a bandeau
  • Bikini Bottoms: made from super soft microfibre these bikini bottoms offer medium coverage
  • Colourblock swimsuit: (also available in blue) this is one of my favourites, firm control so size up. High elastane content at the front for great body contouring and a back lining too. A contrasting pink back strap in a sporty cross style to support the bust and a removable halter strap.
  • Kaftan: picking up on the colourblocking this kaftan gives full coverage but has side splits to enable easy, wafting movement on the beach
  • Pink short sleeved blouse: you saw me road test this one recently, a lovely jersey top with a flattering gauzy overlay
  • Red, pink and orange sandals: simple, vibrant leather sandals with a contoured footbed
  • Orange resin bangle: (also available in pink or yellow) a pop of colour – resin is great for wearing in the sun because it’s durable and won’t burn you in the heat
  • Pink suitcase: easy to spot in the overhead lockers, why not have a suitcase to match your wardrobe. 10 year guarantee.
  • White linen crops: a summer essential, these will work with everything in your suitcase. They’ll be cool to wear in the heat and they’ll accentuate a golden tan
  • Red tiered maxi-dress: 70s retro is a key theme this summer and this dress with its tiered skirt will work both on the beach or in the evening.
  • Straw basket: (also available in cobalt) a capacious basket for the beach.
  • Aviator sunglasses: the classic that suits just about everyone, these have a 3N rating you can trust and they’re a great price.
  • Pink resin earrings: another lovely, tactile accent that you could even wear in the pool if you wanted to.
  • Red espadrilles: (also available in black or silver) these espadrilles have elastic fastenings which means they’re easy to slip on and they stay on your feet.

See the full red toned collection here

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing – based on neutrals

Lots of people prefer a sophisticated neutral palette. I find that when I’m on a two-week holiday, there comes a point when I want to step away from colour, usually when I have a bit of a tan and can carry it well. So for a fortnight in hot sun, combining the capsule above with this one would be the perfect packing solution because you could intermix them too.

Swimwear, beach and holiday packing

  • Black swimsuit: a medium control sculpting swimsuit with detachable belt – selling fast so be quick
  • Animal print bikini top: on trend zebra print, moulded and lightly padded, this top comes in cup sizes up to an F and has detachable straps
  • Animal print bikini bottoms: also bikini shorts : choose whichever you prefer – adjustable tie-sided bottoms or a boy short style with side-ruching that enables you to adjust the leg
  • White kaftan with guipure lace (also available in navy or black): a pretty white kaftan that will work with every piece of swimwear you own
  • Amber resin bangle: an asymmetric bangle to offset tanned arms
  • Panama hat: in a monochrome weave, this will protect you from the sun as well as adding a finishing touch to your outfit
  • Black linen dress (also available in white or grey and white stripes): a light linen in a structural shape that you can wear day or night
  • Bronze slides: the best of both worlds, chic looking sandals that come from the ‘designed for comfort range’
  • Tortoiseshell sunglasses: lightweight shades with heavy duty UV protection
  • Monochrome earrings: monochrome earrings with a mix of textures
  • Black double layer top (also available in ivory): this looks like a simple tee but it has a sheer georgette layer over the top for a fluid shape
  • Straw tote bag: a raffia bag with internal pocket to keep your valuables safe
  • Wide leg chinos (also available in navy): wide leg crops in elasticated cotton with topstitching detail for a relaxed look
  • Cabin sized suitcase: a stylish, super light suitcase weighing jus 2.1kg with a 10 year guarantee
  • Black espadrilles: chic with a comfortable low wedge and double lacing at the ankle to make them easy to walk in

See the complete neutral collection here

If you prefer to shop in store the swimwear collection is available in all branches of John Lewis & Partners as well as online plus, of course, you can make an appointment with a personal stylist who will do all of the hard work for you (more information here). The only thing to consider is that the new swimwear is getting a lot of press coverage so you may want to go in sooner rather than later.

I think they’ve done a really good job this summer. I’ve been saying that I’m looking forward to seeing how this range develops and this kind of careful capsule expansion gives us a taste of what’s to come. I’m excited by the thoughtful focus on fit and shapes that really flatter the body – JL&P I really hope you’re going to continue this across the range as you develop your new collections because it’s exactly the kind of intelligent retailing that I, for one, am always looking for.

Disclosure: Swimwear, beach and holiday packing is a post commissioned by John Lewis & Partners however capsule styling ideas and fit conclusions are all my own.

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