Glitter swimwear: you won’t wear all of it for long, but you’ll wear some of it for ever

Along with the trend for ‘glitter bums’, this festival look comes with a host of environmental – not to mention its practical – concerns

Name: Glitter swimwear.

Age: Recently applied.

Appearance: Glittery, a bit sheer.

Are we talking about bikinis made of glittery fabric? Not quite.

Because that’s not new. You can buy those absolutely anywhere. This is a bit more than that. Or less.

Are you sure? Because it just looks like a glittery bikini. That may be what it looks like, but there is no actual bikini. Just glitter.

I see. No wait, I don’t. The latest summer trend involves applying glitter directly to the skin in a swimsuit shape.

So there’s nothing covering your modesty except glitter? I’m not sure modesty comes into it, but yes, it’s all glitter.

That is going to play havoc with the pool filter. I don’t think you’re supposed to go in the water. It’s more of a festival thing.

What if it rains? It’s mostly an Instagram thing, along with its even newer offshoot, the “glitter bum”, which involves applying liberal amounts of glitter to one’s backside, often in lieu of pants.

As if the sun shines out of your behind? More like you sat in a unicorn’s litter tray, but you’ve got the idea.

Glitter bum, as seen at Glastonbury festival in 2017.
Glitter bum, as seen at Glastonbury festival in 2017. Photograph: Maja Smiejkowska/Rex/Shutterstock

As I know from many a primary school project, glitter is a temporary and yet surprisingly tenacious form of decoration. True: you won’t be wearing all of it for long, but you’ll be wearing some of it for ever.

Who or what is behind this odd look? Mostly glitter companies and glitter cosmetic brands.

That makes sense. And how much would I be expected to pay for a bikini top made of glitter and only glitter? About £30, including the glue to stick it to yourself.

That’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of glitter.

Isn’t all this glitter bad for the environment? In a word, yes. Most glitters are made of plastic, and most wearable glitter ends up going straight down the plughole and into the nearest fish.

How terrible. Is there no alternative? Biodegradable glitter, made from cellulose, is also available these days, but if you’re wearing it instead of clothes, you might want to check that it will stay where it’s supposed to ...

Do say: “All is not gold that glitters; much of it is a combination of aluminium and polyethylene terephthalate.”

Don’t say: “Sorry, but when I ordered a pair of glitter balls this was not what I had in mind.”

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