I was 49 when we moved to LA. Long gone were the years when I might have had the confidence to carve down the boardwalk on roller blades in a bikini. Nevertheless, I had to reach some kind of peace with my body because I certainly wasn't going to avoid the ocean or the pool.
As a result I have mastered the art of the strategic cover-up and perfected the most flattering angle to lie on a sun bed. I'm expert at hanging onto a towel before plunging into the water and grabbing it fast getting out. I excel at camouflage, am a mistress of the art of illusion and how to make myself feel confident and beach ready.
Gravity gets us all eventually but when you live in a warm climate you relax a little more because you're seeing real people rather than photo shopped magazine images. Even in California not everyone looks like Miranda Kerr, which is hugely consoling.
1. Think Layers. After a certain age, buying a bikini is about as much fun as the bikini wax you'll need before you can wear it. You're in the shop, you know the colours you like and you grab a few options. You struggle into something that eventually feels like it fits and then in the harsh glare of the fitting room lights you see a woman who cannot possibly be you. Help is at hand - this is the very reason cover-ups were invented. Have shirt- dress styles on hand for full coverage and sarongs for wrapping around your waist. Get oversized T- shirts and linen drawstring pants. You need layers that you peel off and put back on depending on how you're feeling.
2. Swimsuit or two-piece? Surely it's not so much about what you wear as how you wear it - even though my middle is no longer quite in the middle, I still look better with the lines broken up in a bikini. Avoid colours and patterns you wouldn't ordinarily wear. Now is not the moment to channel your inner vixen with leopard print and avoid polka dots unless they're subtle or you're Lulu Guinness. Itsy -witsy -teeny- weeny is a no- no unless you're going to Brazil...
3. Clothes you already have in your wardrobe are surprisingly versatile. Many years ago I bought a skirt from Anthropologie that used to be dressy and now looks great with a t -shirt on the beach. White linen is timeless and versatile so recycle your tops and pants and give them one last outing.
4. The one thing that age does not wither is your ability to look groomed. Pedicures and manicures are your secret weapon - don't neglect them. Equally do not underestimate the power of accessories as this is all about feeling good and complimenting your swimwear. Have a lovely tote bag for your equally lovely sunglasses, a flattering sun hat and pretty sandals. It also goes without saying that you need a good sun cream - burnt is not the new brown.
5. The principles for dressing for the pool or the beach are the same as for anywhere. Stick to what works for you. Remember that you will only be wearing swimwear because the sun is shining and you are on vacation. You are there to enjoy yourself. If all else fails order a Mojito or a Margarita - you will feel so much better about everything.
Read more about Thérèse's adventures at www.thereseblogs.com and pick up her latest novel 'Letter from Paris', published by The Story Plant and available from Amazon $11.71, as well as Kindle.