published Monday, April 16th, 2012

Old or young, shy or bold, there’s swimwear designed just for you

A variety of swimwear options are presented by models Denise Betts, Ginger Phillips, Holly Gross and Beverly Davis.
A variety of swimwear options are presented by models Denise Betts, Ginger Phillips, Holly Gross and Beverly Davis.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

It’s just about time to get back to the beach.

While shopping for swimsuits can be about as much fun for many women as, say, a trip to the dentist, swimsuit fashions have evolved to flatter ladies of different ages and sizes.

“It’s all about customer comfort,” said Ryan Ward, manager at Belk department store.

Many designers are creating swimsuits with a variety of comfort and slimming options — longer tops, skirted bottoms, higher waists and swimdresses.

Ruching and control panels are being added for a slimming effect. Swimsuit tops are being shown not only in clothing sizes, but in bra sizes as well, to allow the best possible fit.

“I can fit any body style that comes in here,” said Denise Betts, swimsuit specialist at Dillards. “I don’t care if she’s a size 22, small breasts or big breasts.”

With options available for comfort and body type, women are free to focus more on the fun part of swimsuit shopping, looking for the right style.

Some swimsuit fashions are echoing clothing fashions this season. Designers are incorporating color blocking and back-to-the-1980s neons into swimwear. Retro styles and feminine details, such as ruffles, abound. Both solids and prints are popular, with florals and polka dots taking top prize in the pattern game. Swimsuits are also showing a little spice, with ethnic-influenced patterns and bright reds being featured as well.

While a monochromatic look has always been touted as flattering, particularly in dark colors, women who wish for a little more variety can mix and match tops and bottoms to create visual interest.

Pairing two different solid colors, or a printed top or bottom with a solid one, even taking pieces from different brands, can create options, Ward said.

“You can always do a basic black bottom with any top,” Betts said.

And it’s not just the swimsuits themselves that are fashionable. Cover-ups have gone from utilitarian to stylish, able to go from the beach to the bistro. Elaborate tunics can be paired with leggings or even just a pair of heels to become a summery dress.

“A huge trend this year is coverups that can go from beach to nightwear,” said Betts.

With so many choices in style and cut, any lady — big or small, old or young, shy or bold — can feel like the toast of the beach.

So go ahead, make a splash.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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