When it comes to fashion, we like to think of ourselves as a forward-thinking nation.
While other countries force their women to cover up, women of Britain are, in theory, allowed to wear what we want, when we want - no matter how skimpy (Ascot and Wimbledon aside, of course).
But it would seem that our ersatz open-mindedness is very much age-specific. In news that will send the over-forties reaching for their robes, it is been revealed that seven out of 10 women believe fellow females over 39 should never wear a bikini.
That means women like Elle Macpherson, 49, Courteney Cox, 48, Jennifer Aniston, 43, and Gwen Stefani, 42 - all of whom could lure a ship onto the rocks with their phenomenal figures - would be forever condemned to a one-piece.
The shocking revelation came as online boutique isme.com quizzed 2,000 women on their views on older women in bikinis.
The unexpected result saw the majority insist that they would be too old to wear a two-piece as they approached their forties.
However, of the over-50s quizzed by the brand, 16.8 per cent said that they would be perfectly happy to wear two-piece swimsuits well into their golden years - proving that this aversion to ageing flesh is a concern that predominantly bothers the youthful - who will no doubt reassess their judgement as they age.
The results surfaced yesterday as isme.com signed up the original supermodel Marie Helvin, 59, to model a new bikini range 'for women of all ages and sizes' in an attempt to prove that there should be no age limit on bikinis.
Helvin, who still strips off with confidence when she hits the beach, said: 'Who says women should be denied the right to wear a bikini just because of their age?
'It’s not as though the only options out there are tiny string bikinis - there is so much choice now for women and they put so much technology into today’s designs.
'Like every woman I’ve gone through the experience of my body changing with time.
'As the years go by you get to know yourself better, and learn what works for you.
'It becomes even more important to find clothes that fit, flatter and help overcome the confidence issues that all women share.'
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