Looking sophisticated can be a day at the beach - in the right swimsuit.
This year, designers present looks that romance, skim, sculpt, mold and ultimately idealize the body.
Think of it as the glamorization of swimwear, a return to the pinup era.
Some of the hottest new styles include ubiquitous pushup bras, shirring, jeweled details, skirted bottoms and coordinating cover-ups. So pretty are these bathing beauties, you can practically wear them out to dinner.
“They’re like evening gowns,” says designer Anne Cole, who sees such suits crossing over to sportswear and clubwear when worn with the right bottom. “I think women enjoy dressing up again, and these looks have a lot of flair.”
Joan Kaner, Neiman Marcus’ senior vice president of fashion design, sees the trend stemming from the combination of new feminine looks in ready-to-wear and the Wonderbra phenomenon.
“Aside from being fashionable,” Kaner says, “I think many women realize just how becoming and how much support these styles offer.”
And flatter they do. Rather than letting a body sink or swim in an unforgiving plain tank, many of these fanciful numbers can gloss over trouble spots, whether exuding a cool glamour or making a flashy splash with dazzling decorations, such as sequins.
Sometimes the suits work by calling attention to a desired area. Other times they deflect notice of a more worrisome one.
For instance, an underwire bra lifts the bosom, thereby flattening the stomach and balancing hips. A shirred wrap bodice can mask a thick waistline.
Betty Grable boy-cut legs can minimize hips. And a flirty skirt will literally skirt over problem thighs.
That these new styles enhance the form is merely a bonus, says swimwear designer Karla Colleto.
“The ideas first come from creativity and innovation,” Colleto says. “Figure-flattering is an extra.
“It just so happens that an underwire bra flatters the figure or that skirted pants camouflage hips. But I don’t design with that in mind.”
Dan Hunt, swimwear marketing manager for DuPont, says increased support and body-sculpting is no accident. Consumers have been all but demanding it.
“Our market research tells us that the majority of women want more support because they have a perceived inferiority about their figures,” Hunt says.
Yet Hunt agrees you need more than just reinforced tummy panels to attract the consumer.
Says Hunt: “Swimwear is fashiondriven. You need the right style and the right cut.”
And, this season, just the right pizazz.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: HOW TO PICK A FLATTERING STYLE Here are some ways to ensure you like the looks of a new swimming suit: Buy a suit one size larger than your normal dress size. To minimize the tummy, choose a wrap style with diagonal stripes or one with shirring on the side. If you prefer two-piece looks, stick with a high-waisted style. To slenderize legs, go for high-cuts, as they create a longer line. A suit with side panels can have a similar effect. Big hips or bottom? Go for suits that have skirts or side shirring. Choose styles that point the eye upward, such as those with dramatic necklines. Avoid horizontals, and be sure to stay away from belts or elastics that can cause unsightly bulges. To enhance the bust, choose an underwire or padded style. Otherwise, go for looks that add dimension, such as ones with ruffled, draped or shirred necklines. A bright color or printed top also will optimize size, especially when worn with a dark bottom. Source: DuPont and SWIM, the swimwear industry manufacturer’s association.