In a world where it seems we're all daring each other to see how much we'll bare on the beach, modest swimsuits still have their place.
Who Wears Modest Swimsuits?
Who wears modest swimsuits these days? Quite a few people as it turns out. These suits are gaining in popularity, although they do seem to be swimming against the current when it comes to current designer swimwear.
You might assume that modest swimwear is strictly the domain for mature and plus size swimmers, but you'd be wrong. Although these two groups do tend to favor bathing suits that offer more coverage and support, many young and fit swimmers are also turning to this style of swimwear, and for more than one reason.
Although barely-there bikinis are often glorified in North and South American cultures, as well as in Europe, they are not viewed with the same appreciation everywhere. Let's look at a few cultures that buck the current trends and advocate modest swimwear.
Religion has always played an important role in the fashions of certain regions and cultures around the world. While there are certainly individuals who march to their own drummer in every group, each group has it's own standard for what would be considered modest swim attire.
Muslims take a fairly strict view on modesty in their culture, as evidenced by the long dark robes worn by the strictest Muslim women. These robes, called niqab, cover all but a woman's eyes. Even women who do not cover their hair and face generally do shun sleeveless tops, miniskirts, and shorts in favor of long, loose skirts. As you can imagine, if a woman wants to go swimming she'll need to wear similar attire, just modified for water safety.
Typical modest swimsuits for Muslim women look more like a loose running suit. Tops provide complete coverage from the neck to the wrists and below the waistline. Bottoms are full length pants, and the hair is covered by a loose fitting bathing cap.
Men are expected to cover the area from their chest to their knees, so T-shirts and long shorts are the usual Muslim male swimming attire.
If you are looking for swimwear that honors the rules of Islamic modesty, try:
The Jewish people have their own word for modesty; tznius. According to Orthodox Judaism, the area from the collar bone, to the elbows and down to the knees must be covered by clothing that is loose fitting. This definitely goes for times when company is mixed between men and women, but some sects go even further and extend this type of dress to all circumstances.
That said, there is a saying among Jewish women, "Frum does not have to mean frumpy". Although they take modest dress seriously, they still want to look their best, and extend this to their swimwear as well.
Modest swimwear for a Jewish woman would be similar to Muslim and Christian swimwear, as long as the appropriate section of the body is clothed.
Jewish men are also held to a standard of modesty, and usually wear a T-shirt and swim trunks. Speedos are out, board shorts are in.
There are countless sects of Christianity, each with their own particular teachings about modesty in clothing, but on the whole, the issues revolve around not dressing in a tempting fashion. Swimsuits should be conservative and functional rather than provocative. Coverage is important, but perhaps not as strict as it is in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish cultures.
One style of modest Christian swimwear for women is a cross between a swim dress and board shorts. Shoulders are covered, and the scoop neckline rests just below the collar bones. The shorts cover the knee caps. A modification of this design might pair a similar T-shirt top with the shorts and leave the skirt out altogether.
One example of a modest Christian swimsuit is offered by ModLi. While the suits are designed with Christians in mind, the ultra-conservative cut may meet the Muslim and Jewish religious requirements as well.
Modesty for Everyone?
The depleting ozone and magnified effect of ultraviolet rays have sent many of us seeking for ways to protect our skin while we enjoy the summer sun.
UV swimwear carries an SPF up to 50+, and often covers more skin than a bikini or traditional one piece, so it seems that modest swimsuits that cover a major portion of our bodies would also be beneficial for sun protection. Some sun-sensitive swimmers wear swim shirts or surf-style rash guards over traditional style swimsuits.
Who knows, maybe we'll all be wearing modest swimsuits in the next ten to fifteen years?