By Lisa Smith Wood
Let’s face it, how many women really love the process of buying a new swimsuit? For years, even for those with perfect bodies or at least perfect body images, swimwear shopping has ranked right up there with having a root canal.
Well, guess what? There are plenty of reasons to step into the dressing room again without reaching for the anti-depressants. Savvy Marco Island retailers currently feature such a vast array of swimsuit styles that they may well accommodate 4 generations of customers. And for those of us who aren’t candidates for the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, oh, have our options grown!
Today’s swimwear manufacturers have the ability to design and produce suits that are closer to haute couture than the ill-fitting, unflattering synthetic handkerchiefs used in the past. Fabrics are revolutionary in terms of elasticity, control, colorfastness and, with proper care, longevity of wear. Construction of both 1- and 2-piece suits resembles fine lingerie using finely detailed lifts, hidden supports, adjustable straps, and built-in cups.
Joyce McFarland, owner of Marco Island Clothing Co., is impressed with the evolution of both sophisticated fabrics and many choices for various figure types. “A higher percentage of stretch in the fabric allows for optimal control,” she says. “We also have a demand for 1-piece styles to fit ladies with long torsos. The suits with figure control are also popular with our customers so we carry a wide range of solids and prints.” She carries 2 piece separates though the store’s products mix leaning toward 1-pieces, matching cover-ups and accessories. Joyce points out that design elements such as ruching, or soft on-seam gathers, can be very slimming and will camouflage figure flaws.
Mary Bauer, President of Aqua Beachwear in Marco Walk Plaza sees bursts of brilliant color in this year’s collections. Bold blues, deep corals, dynamic reds and vivid colors of citrus are prevalent looks throughout each category. Equally important is the presence of floral prints. Always a staple for summer, this year’s floral prints vary from cosmopolitan abstracts to whimsical vintage-inspired flowers.
Both McFarland and Bauer agree on the importance of the color white this year. Clean and sophisticated, both buyers feature models in solid white as well as prints with predominately white backgrounds. Historically considered a color to be worn only by the ultra-fit, white works well for almost everyone. Nothing sets off the glow of a healthy tan than a white suit. The overall effect can be positively stunning.
So, with technologically advanced fabrics, detail-rich construction meant to flatter and conceal, and avant-garde styling, the remaining factors in choosing the best suit are left up to the woman wearing the suit. As with all beachwear, the key is to find a flattering silhouette and buy it in the appropriate size. Certainly experienced sales staff can offer advice on sizes and silhouettes; so don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
Just in case you’ve managed to miss every fashion magazine’s requisite version of “Selecting the Right Swimsuit for You”, here are some ‘bare essentials’ to consider before you shop.
For a full bust line – Opt for styles that offer bra-like support such as under wire or built in cups. Halter styles with wider straps are great choices. Look for tops with full coverage and leave the postage-sized triangle tops to girls with less to cover. A bandeau top without proper support construction is not your friend, unless you’re partial to looking like an ancient tribal figure featured within the pages of National Geographic.
For a less-than-full bust line – Ingenious swimwear manufacturers have come a long way in the art of, shall we say, “pumping up the volume” so that an enhanced appearance is achieved with little of the thick, heavy paddingpreviously used. Shirred cups or added ruffle detail can also add balance to create an hourglass figure. Otherwise, enjoy the ability to wear delicate straps with triangle, demi-cup, or simple bandeau tops.
Thick or wide midsection – Again, miracle fabrics with near girdle-like qualities are some of the greatest gifts to womankind. It is your God-given birthright to wear a swimsuit that promises to make you appear 10 lbs. slimmer, or reduce your waistline up to 1.5”. And don’t disregard the power of ruching. Often mistaken as a design feature that will add thickness or bulk, today’s swimsuits are so smartly designed, with ruching added at diagonal angles, sometimes with internal waist-cinching features added for a look that is nothing short of slim, sleek and sophisticated.
Broad shoulders – Wispy spaghetti straps can get lost on strong shoulders, so select a style with wider straps. Tank suits with cut-in straps are very becoming, as are halter style tops, which are very popular this year.
Narrow hips – To add some curves, try a boy-style short with wider sides that draw the eye to that area. If it’s appropriate, skirted styles with pleats or ruffles can also be flattering. Add horizontal stripes. Yes, stripes. Go ahead, those slim hips are already the envy of others, so showcase what works well.
As ours is a lifestyle built in and around water so owning and wearing swimwear is a fact of life. With Marco Island retailers carrying comprehensive assortments of gorgeous beachwear, choices have never been more plentiful or flattering for every body type. No longer a dreaded, daunting experience, shopping for swimwear is fun, easy, and fruitful.
Mary Bauer is president of Aqua Beachwear (formerly The Beach House, rebranded last year). The following is reprinted from her blog, Talking Swim, featured on the corporate website. Take good care of your swimsuit!
Treat your swimsuit like the fine garment that it is. The proper care of a swimsuit is to hand-wash in cold water and lay flat to dry after each wearing.
A big “no” with swimwear is putting it in the washing machine and or dryer. A swimsuit is strictly a hand-wash item. A trip through the washer and dryer is all around bad for your swimsuit. It’s everything: the heat of the water, the motion of the agitator, the detergents in the laundry soap, and the heat of the dryer. Also, save your old swimwear for the hot tub. Hot tubs will shorten the life of your swimsuit, the very hot water and chemical combo is not a friend to swimwear fabrics.
Washing machines, dryers, and hot tubs can all cause not only a fading of colors or blotchy colors, but can break down the fibers of the suit, causing a “fuzzy” effect, “worn through” areas, or excessive stretching, sometimes to the point where the suit is “limp”. You can ruin a swimsuit very quickly, or at the least, shorten the life of a suit, with careless handling.
Be cautious when sitting on rough surfaces, such as the edge of a pool. This can cause snags in the rear of your swimsuit, making it “fuzzy” and “picky”.
Also worth mentioning: Color bleeding! Red colors are over-dyed and have a tendency to run. There are many old (and new) wives tales on how to set the dye. Soaking the suit in vinegar is said to set the color in garments made with vegetable dyes, however it is impossible to determine whether a natural or synthetic dye has been used, so we are unable to offer any advise other than to be more careful with colors in the red family as they may run when wet.
Simply put, take good care of your swimsuit and it will take good care of you, keeping its shape so it will keep flattering your shape.