Thursday, June 18, 2009

Modest Swim Suits Gaining Popularity


Do you have any idea how many years I have been swimming in the same black lycra skirt and polyester top?

Do you know how many times I have heard, "Ma'am . . . we don't allow street clothes in the pool area."

UGH. What a pain.

I kept thinking to myself: "Wow. Someone, somewhere, who is a LOT more confident with a sewing machine than I am, needs to design something modest I can swim in.

Well, they did it, and they aren't just modest--they are also really cute!


Modest swim suits, when less skin is better

JERUSALEM — Devora, an Orthodox Jewish woman, never felt comfortable in the sleek, revealing bathing suits sold at the stores she frequented in her native France or in her adopted Israel.

While she ordinarily wears fashionable skirts that fall below the knee and blouses that extend to her wrists, Devora, 31, was unable to find a swimsuit consistent with her Orthodox lifestyle.

Her standards of religious modesty extend not only to her wardrobe but also to sharing her full name, lest it draw attention to her and her family.

When the dress she typically wore over her bathing suit got wet, "it became heavy, unwieldy, clingy and transparent. I felt incredibly self-conscious, even while swimming during women-only hours," she said of the segregated swimming that's available at some Israeli pools and beaches.

A year ago, Devora heard about a modest-swimwear line called Sea Secret. Designed in Israel by two French-born Orthodox Jews in consultation with a respected rabbi, the company's below-the-arm, below-the-knee swim-dresses adhere to the strict Orthodox Jewish dress code.

"I bought a swim-dress just before going on vacation last year and found it elegant, comfortable and modest," she said. "Wearing it, I felt like a role model for my young daughter and comfortable around my young son. Other women saw it and asked where I'd purchased it. I loved it so much I ended up selling the company's swimwear."

Modest-minded women around the world are now enjoying a similar sense of new-found freedom, thanks to the recent emergence of several lines of modest swimwear in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Although statistics on this niche market are hard to come by, online testimonials — with actual photos of satisfied customers in their swimsuits — and chat-room discussions and blog posts lend credence to manufacturers' claims that the phenomenon is growing.

Even more, women can now be seen actually wearing the suits on local beaches.

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