Diving into Swimwear


by Sharon Mosley

It’s summer somewhere... and if you’re lucky enough to escape for a tropical getaway anytime soon, chances are you’ve been shopping for a swimsuit. And whether you’re suiting up for a vacation in paradise, an afternoon beach walk, or just want to find a new suit before the neighborhood pool opens, it’s a good time to test the waters and dive into a new season of fun in the sun. Here are some tips and trends to get you started:

Take a chance on new styles. If you’ve always worn that boring black one-piece, throw caution to the wind, and experiment with something new. You may not be ready for a string bikini, but a new Baywatch-inspired red-hot maillot may be just the thing to put a little sizzle back into your swimwear wardrobe. One-pieces with plunging necklines and high-cut legs are having a moment this year.

Consider buying separates. One of the best things to have ever happened to the swimwear industry—mix and match separates. With tops and bottoms that come in a multitude of silhouettes and sizes, you can create your own unique swimsuit. The possibilities are endless. Take one high-waisted boy short and add a bikini top or a cropped tankini or both. Combining several different styles with coordinating prints and solids gives you a versatile way to stretch a swim wardrobe. Let your creativity go wild.

Play up your assets. This is a fashion “rule” that applies to your swimwear as it does to your everyday clothes. Most of us inherently know what looks best on us...and it’s all about feeling good in what we wear, no matter what size or age. But if you love your legs, then check out a suit with a higher-cut leg opening to elongate legs. To disguise a large waist, the latest suits that feature side slits and cut-outs are great options. Belted suits add emphasis on the waist and halter-tops highlight shoulders. All-over prints, like the season’s favorite fruits and florals, as well as patterns, like stripes and polka dots, are perfect for disguising lumps and bumps.

Use color to flatter your skin. Pastel colors are big trends in ready-to-wear, and swimwear manufacturers have jumped off the board with pale peaches, light lavenders, sugary pinks, baby blues and lemon yellows. White is another big trend. These pastels generally look best on darker skin tones. If you’re pale, consider wearing brighter jewel tones or dark colors. Use color to your best advantage even if you like the color block effect. Black and white is always a winning combination.
Add some glamour.

If you’re scuba diving or taking a water aerobics class, then you might want to stick to the classic swimwear styles that allow for ultimate function, as well as style. But sometimes, girls just wanna have a little fun, right? There’s plenty of ways to shine with swimwear this season. Metallics are just one way to shimmer. How about taking a little velvet out for a swim? Or grabbing some attention in swimwear with glamorous details: crochet, tassels and ruffles? One-shoulder suits are also attracting the notice of trendsetters.

Run for cover. Of course one of the most versatile pieces in the swimwear wardrobe is what you cover up all those swimsuits with. Now there’s more ways than ever to get as much (or as little) coverage as you wish. You can also find sun protection built into much swim apparel. Some of the new cover-ups even double as streetwear. Get creative with board shorts, flouncy swim miniskirts, swim tee rash guards, embellished tunics and even swim dresses. Hoodies and loose pants provide lots of comfort and when teamed with cropped swim tops, they are the key to style on and off the beach. And, if you really don’t care much about covering it all up? Go for a sheer, see-thru plastic cover-up. Just make sure to use lots of sunscreen... always the ultimate cover-up!

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.

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