Nicole’s Favourite Things: Beachy Keen, Jelly Bean

We are having a heat wave! It’s hot and sunny and it’s supposed to break and be rainy just in time for the weekend. We are in the midst of re-staining our deck; I am doing a little bit every day to take advantage of the hot weather. Hopefully it won’t rain all weekend so my husband can get some staining done as well. It is so warm that I am wearing a ridiculous pair of booty shorts, along with an old shirt of my husband’s, to stain in. Fortunately none of my neighbours have come by to chat while I’m wearing what looks like just a man’s t-shirt. Maybe they are scared off by my (very bad) singing along to “80s Smash Hits” on Spotify. I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me you can CALL ME AL. Oh call me Al!

But all this heat makes me think of the beach, which makes me think of an epiphany I had during spring break. No, I’m not going to talk about beach bodies or bikini bodies or any of that, although I admit I dislike the latest trend, which is to “get a summer body.” People. There is so much wrong with “summer bodies versus winter bodies,” mostly that this is a very unhealthy way of thinking. We should be thinking health and fitness rather than aesthetics, for one thing. I know that’s pretty rich, coming from me, for whom 80% of my weight loss/ maintenance motivation is to be able to wear all my clothes, but I like to think of that as more of a financial consideration than an aesthetic one.

But the other thing is, other than summer clothes being more revealing than winter ones, generally speaking, summer clothes are also much more forgiving and generous than winter clothes. At least, this is the case in my wardrobe. My summer clothes tend to be stretchy fabrics with elastic waistbands, whereas my winter clothes have a lot of buttons and zippers.

But I digress! I said I wasn’t going to talk about this and then I ended up talking about it. Let’s focus on health, blah blah, blah, but what I really wanted to talk about is BEACH WEAR.

Anyway, back to my epiphany. For years I’ve been buying bikinis at Old Navy; at the end of the season their mix and match pieces are incredibly cheap, and so I would stock up. Mostly what I would purchase was string bikini pieces, the kind that are basically two triangles of fabric with string, but this past spring I realized that I can no longer wear them. Well, I CAN. I can put them on and wear them, yes, but a) they are not flattering anymore, and b) with my children edging towards adolescence, I’m cognizant of the “embarrassing mom” factor.

Further to part a), one thing I have really noticed about being in my forties – well, and thirties, I guess – is that the girls just aren’t what they used to be. Gravity and, um, deflation has taken its toll and those $7 bikini tops are just not going to cut it anymore. I need something with significantly more engineering and lift; but not too much lift, as I found out the hard way after purchasing a Victoria’s Secret bikini. Too much lift means that wardrobe malfunctions can occur in a completely unexpected way, i.e., lifting oneself right out of a highly engineered bikini top.

Wardrobe malfunctions are also tied to part b) in which I do not want to be the embarrassing mom or one who scars her sons for life. And so, although I strongly agree that you should WEAR WHAT YOU WANT TO WEAR AT THE BEACH, EVERYONE ELSE’S OPINION BE DAMNED, I am no longer wearing my skimpy bikinis.

Which brings me to…

Nicole’s Favourite Things, The Beach Edition

The Elusive “Supportive and Sort of Modest” Bikini

Before I get to this, I should give a caveat: I realize not everyone likes or wants to wear a bikini. It is my bathing suit of choice for a few reasons: a) one piece suits never fit me correctly and I get appalling wedgies/ camel toe no matter what, not to mention that the thought of stripping down to absolutely nothing and possibly having my swimsuit touch the floor of a public washroom every time I need to use it makes me feel a bit queasy, and b) because I’m quite tall tankinis don’t fit me that well either, or they ride up in a bikini-like fashion while I am in the water. Therefore, bikinis are my choice BUT DON’T WORRY, I AM NOT SHAMING ANYONE FOR THEIR SWIMSUIT PREFERENCES.

Just wanted to make that clear, after my eyebrow post/ eyebrowgate.

So no more string bikinis, instead I have taken to wearing halter tops or bandeaux, because of greater coverage and less chance of slippage. I bought each of these pieces separately from La Vie En Rose Aqua, and I love them. This is what I wear when I’m actually going to be in the water, swimming or just splashing around with the kids. I have even worn them on a waterslide and wasn’t arrested for indecent exposure, which I will consider a major win.


This suit I also purchased from La Vie En Rose Aqua, and I love it very much. The skirted bottom is perfect for (TMI ALERT) that time when you are due for a bikini wax and/ or perhaps didn’t have time for your regular grooming routine. If you don’t get waxes or have a regular grooming routine, that is okay too. No one is judging you. Please let’s not start a war about waxing our nether regions. Anyway. It’s a little more modest, and the top is an absolutely perfect fit. The straps come off if you’re into the strapless look, but as I’m concerned about possible flashing, I keep mine on.


There are two issues I want to note about this suit. Maybe it’s the skirt, maybe it’s the crocheted fabric, but it is NOT ideal for swimming. If your modus operandi is to just hang out on the beach and read a book, like mine generally is, then this is the suit for you. The fabric/ skirt gets a little weighed down in the water and it is not comfortable. But, like I said, it’s the perfect hang-out-and-read-or-maybe-dangle-your-feet-in-the-water-bathing-suit.

Secondly, my husband HATES this look. Hates it. He thinks skirted bathing suits in general and this one in particular look “matronly.” It’s not like I need his approval on what I’m wearing to the beach, but I would prefer that my husband thinks “My wife looks super hot” rather than “My wife looks matronly” and so I note this as a potential downside. But hey, technically I am a matron, so there we go. I also think it’s a cute look and not at all embarrassing for the preteen/ teen boy set, which is my goal at the moment.

Big Floppy Hats

My other goal is to look as little like a raisin and/ or an apple doll as possible, and so I wear a big floppy hat at the beach. I generally do not like wearing hats but I make an exception for the giant floppy type. For one thing, it keeps the sun off my already-wrinkly face and shoulders, and for another, it is very cooling. I feel like I have my own beach umbrella on my head, in the best way possible.


NOTE: This book is so good! Highly recommend.

This hat I purchased at Swimco, and it is specifically meant for travel. It is foldable, squishable, and looks good even after folding and squishing.


This hat is neither foldable nor squishable, but I like it for trips to the pool or road trips to my in-laws’ house. It’s actually bigger than the black one, so I get even more shade with it. Got to protect that skin!


Cute Cover-Up


Further to sun protection, this lightweight cover-up is perfect for the beach. This is as bohemian as I get, style-wise. I purchased this from (whisper) Venus, which in hindsight I probably wouldn’t do again due to customs fees that I didn’t anticipate. Still, it’s cute. I saw a girl on the beach wearing a lightweight oversized white men’s shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, and I desperately wished I had done that. It was an adorable look and once this (unexpectedly expensive) cover-up gives up the ghost, I think that’s what I will do.

Beachy Keen Reads

As I said I love reading while the kids and husband play in the water; The Big Short is, as noted above, excellent, but some lighter reads are fun too. I just finished a book that I had picked up at Chapters for $2.99 and it was worth all that and even more. I kid, it was really fun. It is “Love and Other Foreign Words” and I’m kind of suspicious that it might be a YA read, but it is very fun nonetheless. Look it up, it’s definitely a poolside/ beach book. Other favourite beach reads are “Why Not Me” by Mindy Kaling, “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and, for some reason “The Godfather.” Seriously, I take “The Godfather” with me on every vacation. I do not know why.



This was my first “Favourite Things” since Alison passed. This one’s for you, Alison. Lots of frivolity, lots of love. xoxo


  1. I can’t even tell the second suit has a skirt. It looks more like boy shorts in the picture. Definitely not matronly. J likes swim skirts and they are hard to find in her size. I wonder if she’s in some kind of weird swim skirt age gap (not a little kid and not an adult). I did find her a cute one this year, though, at LL Beans, so that was a win. I go for tankinis myself for the beach or a one piece for laps.

  2. 1) In what world is that skirt bikini “matronly”? I am looking very askance at your husband.

    2) My sister, who live sin Arizona and thus knows a thing or two about sun protection, has converted me to Tula Hats. Gorgeous. and this is not sponsored, I swear.

    3) All I had was two, actually, but it felt naked without a 3. So. 3.

  3. i laughed so hard at the thought of a waxing war. And your disclaimers cracked me up. True confession, my waxingis limited to my face because I have worn swim shorts for years so I never saw the need. I would wear a swim burka if I could get away with it. Which is why your expert opinion is so desperately needed.
    My ten year old was telling me the other day that he wanted to get a six pack so he could have a beach body. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I told him that the best way to have a beach body was to take his body to a beach. Which apparently is the funniest thing I have ever said and has been quoted repeatedly.
    I do love your cover up. Something I saw a lot at Silverwood was light sundresses being used as cover ups because one could then go from the waterpark to the theme park keeping ones bathing suit on but not being in violation of the rules. Which I thought was brilliant.

  4. My husband also has the matronly issue with my skirted bikinis. What up, men? I believe if I were wearing an actual mini-skirt of the same length I would get more than a few catcalls at the mall. Plus, in days of lesser grooming, I’m thinking he might find the visual on that to be even more undesirable. It’s a weird thing.

  5. Yeah, Rob is tripping on the matronly thing. I LOVE that pic of you in the big floppy hat. I can’t wear hats, but I love the idea of portable shade.

  6. Rob is STRAIGHT UP tripping. That suit is adorable.

    I need a new suit this summer and I’m scared. There are few things in this life I hate more than trying to find a suit to fit my (actually matronly) body with its short torso and giant boobs.

  7. You are adorable. I would love to hang out with you.

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