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Can you really swim in a crocheted bikini? Add to ...

The question:

I got a beautiful crocheted bikini, but I have absolutely no idea where to wear it. What’s it for?

The answer:

For these and other mysteries of the female wardrobe, I turn to my expert friends. Melanie Janisse, a clothing collector with exquisite taste, runs a Toronto vintage store called Pineapple, where she sells handmade Brazilian crochet cotton bikinis for around $90. She says, “You don’t swim laps in them, that’s for sure. They’d get too heavy. They’re for tanning. Or posing – a couple of my clients have been fitness models. Or for just wearing around as tops, with cut-off jean shorts.” Why would anyone seek out a swimsuit in which one cannot swim? This any guy can answer: There is something painfully sexy about this item, perhaps because of the promise of disintegration that the strings offer, the chance of glimpsing flesh through the knots, the near-nudity of it. Stick to cotton, though. I have seen wool crochet bikinis in a craft store; they seem a little silly to me (even for posing, wool is rather warm). I think they are meant to be ironic, and ironic dressing is unsexy.

Russell Smith’s latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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