Professional kayaker Haley Popp is wearing a purple one-piece suit by La Blanca, $119. The cover-up, by Becca, is $58. She is shown at the new Hampton Inns and Suites in downtown Chattanooga. Fashions courtesy of Dillard's. Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Dreading swimsuit season? There’s no need, said Denise Betts, swimsuit specialist at Dillard’s, Hamilton Place.
“If you wear sizes 0 to 24, I can put you in a suit you’ll like,” she said.
Betts said today’s swimwear designers have formulated patterns that will accommodate every body type.
Style trends for 2011 include an updated tankini design featuring tops ranging from just above the waist to hip length; flattering skirted bottoms that appeal to women of all ages; tummy-controlling suits; one-piece suits; and variations of the two-piece, including the bikini.
String bikinis are still in style, Betts said, “but we don’t see as many as we used to. We’re seeing more of a ‘hipster’ bottom that is secured on the sides with bows.”
Haley Popp, 18, a nationally ranked professional kayaker, said she typically wears a two-piece, racer-back Speedo when competing. But when she’s at the beach or recreational swimming, she prefers something more stylish, such as a one-piece ruched suit or a not-too-frilly two-piece.
Her mom, Starr Popp, said she’s a fan of the tankini.
“It’s been about three years since I’ve bought a new swimsuit, but when I buy one, I buy it for comfort,” she said. “That’s why I like a tankini. I’ll wear a tankini top with shorts — even around our pool. And when I’m paddling, I’ll wear shorts over the tankini bottoms.”
With tops and bottoms sold separately, it’s easier to get a better fit, Betts said.
She said there are more swimsuits in stock this year than she can ever remember. She recommends that women own more than one. “You need at least two to expand the life of a swimsuit,” she said.
From the top
The most significant updated features in today’s swimsuits are adjustable straps and an underwire bra, Betts said. “The new features give large-breasted women the lift they may need. And because many of the tops, including the one-pieces, have the underwire, it fits just like a bra and gives women support and coverage.”
Around the middle
Finding a swimsuit with tummy control is a priority for many women.
“Spanx has come out with swimwear that has tummy-control panels built in,” Betts said. “And we also carry the Miraclesuit, Inches Away, Coco Reef and Profile suits that are designed to minimize the stomach and hips.”
Betts said women shopping for suits that minimize the stomach and hips should look for brands that have control panels, ruching, a diagonal pattern and/or dark colors.
The biggest trends in swimsuits are ruffles and skirts. While skirted bottoms have always been a favorite of older women, younger buyers are also gravitating to those designs, Betts said.
“Younger females, even teens, are loving the new skirted suits as well, especially the suits with ruched sides (formed by ruffles or pleats),” she said. “The ruching has a minimizing effect.”
Ruching camouflages many body flaws, including rolls, Betts said. “But anyone can wear it. It’s a flattering cut on all body types.”
Versatile prints and vivid solids are big this swim season. “Floral prints, polka dots and ruffles are giving suits a feminine flair,” Betts said.
Classic looks remain popular too, with Ralph Lauren being the go-to designer for many women. “The simplicity of his beautiful and tasteful suits makes them timeless,” she said.
Because not all women are confident wearing a swimsuit in public, Betts recommends a cover-up.
“With a cover-up, you can go from the beach to a restaurant without having to change clothes,” she said. “Cover-ups today are geared toward a dress look. We’ve got some that are chiffon, some that have embellishments, Bohemian styles and long tube tops. You can add a tank top or leggings to each one of these styles, and you’ve got an outfit suitable for wearing out in the evening.”
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...