Let's talk about you. If you haven't bought your swimsuit yet or aren't crazy about the one you grabbed, this is your week. The fast and furious markdowns are starting, making now the time to get out there and find a suit that makes you feel so fabulous you could skip to the snack bar in it.
And, I can assure you: This year, it's out there.
Never before have I witnessed a summer when designers served up so many completely different swimsuit silhouettes. It's as if they finally realized that women come in different shapes and sizes.
I won't bore you with the suits you've already seen (tankinis) or the styles made for those without an ounce of body fat or self-consciousness (can you say "mono-kini"?), but I do want to point out the styles that offer most real women a completely new chance for flattery and comfort poolside.
Although these suits would certainly flatter a woman who typically wears a string bikini, they're especially good news for the truly swimsuit-phobic.
The swimdress: It sounds awful, but top swimwear designers like Gottex and Donna Karan and even junior lines like A.N.A at JCPenney are turning this retro idea into a cute, swingy, slightly clingy style that skims your thighs and backside in an oh-so-flattering and not-too-revealing way. Some versions are one-pieces with pants sewn in; others are two. All are less daunting than a traditional, high-cut tank.
The longer tankini: Instead of stopping at the waist (not every woman's smallest part), some newer tankinis have a fit-and-flared shape that skims out over your hips. Those with a halter-style top look sleek, chic … not at all like you're trying to hide something.
The retro bikini: Some of the newest-looking two-pieces are vintage in inspiration. The upshot is that they have much higher waistbands than we've seen in years, offering a way to wear two pieces without revealing an area that some of us consider a problem spot.
Surf skirts and board shorts: The board shorts that guys have been wearing to the pool for the last few seasons are crossing over. The "hers" versions are much shorter than his, but the bold colors and looser cut offer a fashion-forward way to get more coverage for your bottom half. Layering them over a bikini bottom (that's peeking out from the waistband) makes them look less body-camouflage. Newer yet are the mini "board skirts" -- made of similar fabrics and in a similar, baggy cut ... but as cute little skirts that you could wear almost anywhere.
Tales from the dressing room: We try on and tell all
What we're all really looking for is not just a perfect swimsuit … but a swimsuit that gives us a perfect body. And, if you've been in the swimsuit department lately, you know there are plenty of brands promising just that. Their tags assure you that they'll take off 10 pounds, trim an inch off your waist, and lift and rearrange your body in ways no body-sculpting class ever could. But is this fashion hype … or reason for hope?
We sent two of our favorite Scene shoppers, Christa Ritchie and Maisy Fernandez, and two celebrity testers, Lynda Lambert and Jenny G. from the Lambert and Lindsey morning show on 102.3 The Max (where I chat about fashion every Tuesday morning), into the dressing rooms to test and tell.
THE TESTER: CHRISTA RITCHIE
The Miracle Suit (at Dillard's and Macy's): "The Miracle Suit's tag said 'ten pounds in ten seconds' and it definitely felt like it did that. People warned me that it would feel like a girdle, but I wouldn't say it was that uncomfortable. It was like pulling on a pair of Spanx, but the tightness didn't bother me. It did what it said. And I liked the ruching and the low-cut neckline. It didn't look like a suit my grandma would wear."
The Magic Suit (Macy's): "This one promises to make you look 7 pounds lighter … and that was about right. It had less of that suck-you-in feeling and a little less support than the Miracle Suit. But it worked too. It's a better choice for someone who wants the slimming without the tightness."
Coco Reef (Macy's): "These suits didn't make specific claims and they didn't have the waist-slimming action -- but they are made for women with larger chests. They came in cup sizes from C to double D, and they really were very supportive and really cute.
Comment: "You do have to pay attention to how these suits reshape you. Sometimes they squeeze you in one area and it does kind of distort you in another. Make sure you check yourself from every angle."
THE TESTER: MAISY FERNANDEZ
Profile by Gottex (Macy's): "It doesn't promise to shave off 10 pounds, but it does accentuate the shape you already have -- great if you have an hourglass figure. More important, it does the job comfortably."
Great Lengths (Macy's): "This brand is made a bit longer in the torso to prevent riding up, and it has a tummy-tucking feature. I tried the wrap style, and it really did nip in my waist. However, the leg openings cut almost straight across, making my legs look shorter."
THE TESTER: LYNDA LAMBERT
Anne Cole Shirred Front Tankini (Dillard's): "This was my favorite. It wasn't called a shaper officially, but it has the built-in bra and padding -- so it had good support. It also had a good fit overall and was cute and comfortable. I didn't feel like I was wearing armor. I could actually swim in this."
The Magic Bra Swimsuit (Dillard's): "I tried these on with my mother … and this was her favorite on me. It did flatter and support my chest, unlike a lot of two-pieces."
Comment: "I had a problem with some of the hardware on suits and the positioning of the hardware. I think they'd produce weird tan lines, and some of them hurt."
THE TESTER: JENNY G.
Adjustable Roxy Halter Bikini (Macy's): "I really loved this suit. The closure on the back of the halter was really secure, and there was enough coverage in the front. The bottom wasn't too skimpy and I liked the side ties because you can adjust them. The bright prints shout 'summer.' "
Lucky Brand Bikini (Macy's): "This didn't have specific claims, but the top was surprisingly supportive for a bikini."
Comment: "I agree with Lynda that you have to be careful about some of the hardware on the suits. Some of the suits I saw had belts and buckles near the waistline that were just unflattering."
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