Got a costume drama? Slip into an LBS

Got a costume drama? Slip into an LBS – That’s the Little Black Swimsuit every woman should own, says designer Melissa Odabash

  • Melissa Odabash says that like the little black dress everyone should have a LBS
  • American fashion designer explains this is the Little Black Swimsuit 
  • She explains how the LBS is versatile and can be used when not swimming 

This summer, when you see a celebrity looking effortlessly chic in a swimsuit — Jennifer Aniston or Sharon Stone perhaps — chances are her one-piece will be black. It could also, quite possibly, be one of mine. 

I’ve been designing swimwear for 22 years and will always include a black option in each of my lines. That’s because, just like the classic little black dress hanging faithfully in your wardrobe, the Little Black Swimming costume — or LBS — shouts timeless elegance, while flattering women of every age, size and body shape. 

I know this, and so do my most discerning clients. A black one-piece is slimming as well as discreet — it won’t become see-through the minute you step out of the water. And you’ll get noticed because you look nice and not because you have clad your torso in something loud. 

Swimsuit, £14.99, A young woman can look as sexy in a black swimsuit as the skimpiest bikini

Black goes with any skin tone or hair colour. It’s the perfect first-days-of-the-­holiday choice, because it looks as good on pale skin as on someone who’s naturally dark or has developed any depth of tan. 

And, of course, even if the design you choose is up to the minute, buying it in black means that it will take far longer to date. In other words, the LBS is your new glamorous wardrobe staple — whether you’re sunbathing in the garden, swimming in the Med or lounging by your hotel pool. 

Swimsuit, £240, If you want to make a statement, choose a swim suit that has cut outs at the hips

It also need not be limited to holiday-wear. Many of my clients cleverly use mine as bodysuits under jeans and a smart blazer to wear around town. 

And if you are sporting one on holiday, you only have to throw over a matching skirt or pareo (a type of wraparound skirt originating in Tahiti) and it will take you straight from beach to lunch.

Swimsuit, £250, A belt will create the illusion of your waist being cinched in

Swimsuit, £75, Go for underwiring in your swim suit to lift the bust, if you feel you need the extra support 

Sarah Jessica Parker has been photographed many times over in what appears to be the same black one-piece and she looks sensational — perfectly illustrating why you shouldn’t skimp on what is undoubtedly an investment piece. 

Buy one that’s well made and a good fit and it will last for years, if not decades. No one is going to judge a woman for repeat-wearing something that makes her look ten years younger and an inch slimmer whenever she slips it on. 

Left: Swimsuit, £248, Right: Swimsuit, £75, whistles. com

So, make this the summer of the Little Black Swimsuit. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or older — I promise there is a style out there that will make you feel fantastic.


Margot Robbie (pictured) shows off her taut body in this sporty style, emphasising her toned shoulders 

A young woman can look as sexy in a black swimsuit as the skimpiest bikini, as actress Margot Robbie proves. 

When your body is as taut as it will ever be, choose sporty styles to show off toned shoulders like a racerback. Those with a pert bust can pull off skinny shoulder straps like Margot. 

To make a statement, opt for cut outs at the hips. 


Kate Moss (pictured) opts for for a plunging style, but you can go for a simpler version with adjustable straps and sliders

As we age, our bust can sag but a halter neck will lift you back up. Forever chic Kate Moss is seen here in a plunging style. Our model wears a simpler version. 

Some women don’t like how a halter pulls their neck. Adjustable straps with sliders will also give you some lift. A twist, knot or lacing at the front will too.


Elle Macpherson (pictured) chooses a cut out swim suit, which balances shoulders with hips to achieve the hourglass shape 

Straps like model Elle Macpherson’s will make your shoulders seem more balanced with your hips, creating the appearance of an hourglass shape. 

Go for underwiring at the bust for lift. You may not choose cutouts like Elle, but a belt will create the illusion of your waist being cinched in.


Sharon Stone (pictured) is confident, proving that older women look great in low back swim suits and one-shoulder numbers 

Women in their 60s are often more comfortable with their bodies. And as Sharon Stone proves confidence looks good. 

A low back looks great on older women, while one-shoulder swimsuits can be incredibly chic. 

High-necks protect the decolletage from sun damage, and more substantial suits, top, hold it all together. 

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