At The Beach

July 5, 2011

Beach wear is on my mind. On Saturday, we went to the beach at Deauville. We rented two of the famous umbrellas and slathered on the sunscreen.

There was an older woman in the tent nearest us and I was totally studying her. She was so stylish and clearly a beach expert. I’m guessing she was in her seventies. She was tan (of course) and wore a chic white bikini and turban. The turban was a creamy pashmina wrapped on her head like a towel-after-a-shower. Her small bag hung from the skeleton of the umbrella so it didn’t touch the sand. When she was finished sunning, she put on over-the-knee burberry shorts — white with a stone-colored pattern, a pale, lightweight cashmere zip hoodie, and what looked like gold, feminine Crocs(!). Then she rewrapped her turban and walked off the beach.

I will definitely be bringing my pashmina to our next beach day. And I’m thinking about the Crocs too. What are you wearing to the beach this summer? Any older women in your life who provide fashion guidance?

P.S. — I love the vintage suits in the image at top, especially those high-waisted options.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ana July 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

Oh my this is extremely lovely! J’adore.


2 Kristen E July 5, 2011 at 7:15 am

I love those high-waisted suits too! They really flatter my figure, so I’m glad they’re currently in style. :) I have a one-piece vintage-styled suit (low leg openings, halter top, sweetheart neckline, shirred waist) that fits great and makes me look good at the beach. I throw on a smocked-waist skirt overtop and I’m all set!


3 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Kristen, your beach outfit sounds perfect!


4 sarah July 5, 2011 at 7:31 am

hmmm…i have a couple of lands’ end suits that i am wearing this summer. no high waists for me….i would look proportionately a mess!
i have an old navy pink tunic shirt that is light weight cotton….my perfect cover up. i feel like a millionaire’s wife when i wear it with my fossil white watch.


5 Marissa July 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

My thighs can’t handle the the low leg thing…oh my gosh. Sausages. But I totally love the description of that lady! I SO want to be her…as long as she is deeper than just the beach. I want to be BOTH! Thanks for sharing, and thanks white bikini lady on the beach, for inspiring us to be fashionable no matter where or how old!!


6 Jenny July 5, 2011 at 8:34 am

In a totally off topic question….Is Le Tour coming near you? Are you going to go watch it at all anywhere?? I think about you each morning when we watch the lovely countryside and villages from above and wonder if they are near you at all…


7 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Yes! It’s coming very near us. We’ll be watching for sure! I hope I capture some great photos.


8 Jenny July 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

Wonderful…please post! I’d love to see the race from your perspective and your great eye for detail.


9 Andrea@FancyThat! July 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

Ooh, love the question above. My dad and I watch the Tour religiously. Didn’t occur to me you may be able to see it! Though I suppose a spectator may only see a few minutes of action…love the striped swim bottoms by the way.


10 Rebecca - A Daily Something July 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

Oh how lovely :) I love watching stylish elderly women….

And those umbrellas….YUM!


11 Aimee July 5, 2011 at 9:23 am

love those suits! I have been looking for vintage looking AND modest swim suits for a long time. any ideas?


12 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I heard that Anthropologie has some great vintage cuts this year.


13 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Oh. And I heard etsy does too.


14 Erin July 5, 2011 at 9:35 am

I’ve been wondering about the Tour, too. My husband dreams of seeing it in person. What a fun family trip that would be! Maybe one day.


15 {plum} July 5, 2011 at 9:43 am

why, oh why can’t I be as stylish and chic as any European madame – at any age! I’ll be daydreaming about French coasts and cool sunbathers all day.

Thanks for the mini getaway in my head!!

I’ve been coveting these all month, your post has convinced me to buy!!

Question: Is any one else brave enough to rock the summer turban beach side, pool side and states-side? I wonder what glances one might get en Etats-Unis??

best – d
post script: don’t forget, confidence. Work yours! {turban and otherswise!!}


16 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Go for it! I’ll bet all the other women will want to copy you. : )


17 Giulia July 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

I love the vintage style, but I think I’m not brave enough to wear it…However, I do wear my towel like a turban after my morning swim workout through the Starbucks drive thru – probably not too stylish though as there is a faded Mickey Mouse printed on the towel ;)


18 Everton Terrace July 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

I would loved to have seen a photo of that woman, she sounds fabulous. I am covered head to toe at the beach, I look ridiculous!


19 The BabbyMama July 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

I am 100% wearing the femme Crocs – their flats are one up from flip-flops – and a black two piece that covers all my assets. Very much like a LBD. And a big sun hat, because wrinkles… quelle horreur!


20 The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful July 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I am a vintage swimsuit junkie. Bring back the time when tummies were round, breasts were full, and thighs were satiny cushions of lust-worthy joy!


21 julie July 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm

au Québec nous avons une designer qui s’inspire des looks vintage…

joli non?



22 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Great image, Julie!


23 Ann July 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

The cover-up was always something the women shopped for in my family. It was always white and long sleeved. I wear a cover-up but I’m usually really hot in the summer and don’t like sleeves! And I prefer darker colors. I love that the more modest bikini bottom is coming into vogue. I got my tankini from Lands End this year. I really like it. The bottom is a higher waist and holds my tummy in!


24 Design Mom July 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Yay for higher waists! They are so kind to post-pregnancy tummies.


25 emily July 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Oooh! I love the sound of that! And those swimsuits are gorgeous! I’ll be wearing a loose casual cotton dress on the way to and from and am thinking to try out one of those gorgeous Turkish towels that you can wear like a sarong – they seem to look so much cooler than wrapping a towel around! I found some here: and I think this post has just given me the push I need to get one :) yeee! I love a good etsy purchase!


26 That Uncomfortable Itch July 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I’m currently trapped in two of the ugliest Land’s End has to offer in tugless tank one pieces. I own a slightly more hip Ahtleta tankini with boy shorts that I prefer when playing with the kids. I find boy shorts to be flattering and so comfy, plus they cut down on the whole self-conscious feeling of parading around in a swimsuit.

Those retro suits up top are divine. Love those!


27 Souris July 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm

G, what a lovely post. I wish we could all LOUNGE so gracefully. :) And thanks for the link to the vintage-looking suits, I’m desperate to replace my pre-baby beachwear. We live in Santa Monica, CA, five blocks from the ocean and have made NATIVE SHOES our #2 beach must-have (after sunscreen). They’re affordable, lightweight and come in classic designs. I wrote them up here:

Happy summer!


28 Ana July 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I totally check out people wearing stunning fashions all the time – especially crochet/knit! I get paranoid that they will catch me checking them out and think I’m weird or checking them out for real as opposed to checking out their rockin’ fashions.


29 Deborah July 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I too love observing older women who are stylish and in shape. It helps me to know that others have achieved their ages with grace and style. There is an older woman at the gym I attend that inspires me everyday.
As for the beach, I will be wearing a tankini (to cover that funky stretched out skin from having kids) from Athleta and a sleeveless coverup along with some fit flops. I love the bra sized suits they have and truly believe someone out there needs to make a suit with a real bra inside, not just some floating underwear. If anyone has heard of such a suit, please post about it!


30 elaine July 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I am a woman 66 years old and I am one of those older women who love to away string bikinis. I am a grandmother and when I go with my daughters they clearly are not happy with my choices in suits. I am lucky to still have a good body but I also do everything to take care of myself and keep in shape. I love the looks I get.


31 bettijo @ July 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Love those Crocs! My grandmother was my style mentor — I always loved shopping with her. The main lesson she taught me is to never wear anything that doesn’t flatter your figure, no matter how hot the style is, it must first and foremost compliment your body’s shape. It wasn’t until after having kids and actually having some body issues to hide that my grandmother’s advice really started to make sense.


32 Nikki July 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

What a lovely day at the beach for you!
Interesting you posted this today because the news informed me on this day in 1946, swimwear was forever changed with the debut of the bikini in Paris!


33 Ann Waterman July 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I’m loving these suits from Land’s End Canvas:


Both are lined and very well-made. And you can’t beat those prices!


34 Ale July 6, 2011 at 2:57 am

Thanks Ann, I like the style and most of all the prices!!!
And I’ve seen they sell in Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Uk) and Japan too!


35 Ann July 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

You’re welcome! I’m just tickled to bits with these suits. They’re the best I’ve seen in ages.


36 Claire July 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I notice Le tour de France was mentionned earlier on. Your kids will love it but make sure you arrive plenty of time in advance. The fun part is waiting for the caravanes to pass by: they throw candies, publicity, goody bags… Once the bikers arrive, you have 2 mns to see them maximum and…. pfffftt…. the show is over. Enjoy!


37 beachmom July 6, 2011 at 7:07 am

when i was in positano about 3 summers ago i was fascinated by an older woman – short, chic white hair, very tan, wearing a navy blue bikini, and a few nice pieces of turq jewelry, and gold capri sandals…she could have been 80 but she looked so good! i often think of her and her wonderful age-be-damned style…this summer i’ve been wearing 2 piece bathing suits from j.crew – the come in a bunch of solid colors and then you can mix and match – yesterday i wore a bright orange top with a purple grape bottom…the bottoms aren’t too skimpy and the tops are a ruched bandeau that is very flattering!


38 Ado July 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

Gabby – To be honest I’d rather walk across an iceberg floating in Antarctica than get into my swimsuit and be noticed at the beach – truly one of my fears (would far rather blend into the sand). But style-wise am living vicariously through you! Love how you studied the older beautiful French woman at Deauville in the pashmina – oh, j’adore the French! I love how reading your blog gives me a front-row seat to all things French. We were in Paris this Spring and I found myself frequently studying – and feasting on – what everyone was wearing! (-: Love your blog. Love it! A.


39 July 6, 2011 at 9:05 am

I am totally taking the Pashmina as it’s also great as a breastfeeding coverup and somewhere to place the baby and even tie the baby around my waist in! We are off to Montauk and the Hamptons this weekend, so am planning my arsenal.


40 Monica July 7, 2011 at 7:20 am

Oh, I love the beach at Deauville. I went at the end of September, so no beach weather, but it was beautiful!
And it’s true what they say…french women are born with a sense of style that is all their own….I mean if I can be that cool at 70??? I wish(I am probably not that cool now….)!
sigh…..great little story!


41 lindsay marie July 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm

yeah, I studied women in France a lot too! I lived on the riviera for a long summer and I still remember a few women I saw that I wanted to be just like! Also I will never forget my 8th grade English teacher, she had to be in her 70s but was so incredibly stylish, she never wore the same thing twice and she looked like an older Mrs. Robinson from the Graduate. She wore lots of wide legged tweed pants, pretty colored silk blouses and all of these different cute leather shoes……


42 Katie Morse July 9, 2011 at 2:28 am

I have just moved to the coast of Spain and have learned not to look too closely at the woman on the beach because they might not have a top on. =) I love the idea of the crocs for the beach we are still trying to perfect our beach routine, though with four kids it is more about how to get home with the least amount of sand on our seats and less about style (looking into some sort of portable shower to spray off feet and legs at the car). Enjoy the beach we are sure excited to live close to one again.


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