published Monday, May 28th, 2012

Vintage-inspired swimwear shouts feminine fun

  • photo
    Models wearing nautical themed swimwear walk the runway during Siskin's recent StyleWorks fashion show. Clothes were provided by Belk and designed by Karen Kane who was in town to attend the show.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

For some women, a surge in popularity of the one-piece swimsuit this season is a much-welcomed fashion trend.

The updated version of a vintage style is making waves with women young and old.

Recently showcased at StyleWorks, the city's biggest charity fashion show, the one-piece modest suits were a big hit with the audience.

Skirted and with or without straps, the conservative, yet ultra feminine swimsuits have made a comeback.

"I loved the vintage-look swimsuits," said local businesswoman Becky Browder. "The retro style is timeless and classy. Like my mother always said about classic dressing, leave something to the imagination."

Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk, who provided fashions for StyleWorks, which benefits Siskin Children's Institute, said the trend is ideal for women who love retro-inspired looks.

"For the fashionista who loves to add vintage pieces to her wardrobe, the retro-inspired swimsuit silhouettes are a fashion find," Goldstein said. "It has less to do with coverage and more to do with an aesthetic that she finds attractive.

"For me, the coverage is very appealing. Each season, there are sexy, interesting and flattering one-piece suits that appeal to a lot of people. This retro style is just one of those options."

The one-piece swimsuit will not replace the classic bikini, she said.

"In swimwear, we often see a retro-inspired look as part of the mix, (and) we have had a very positive response to retro-inspired suits like the ones featured in the fashion show," she said. "Belk buyers do a great job in varying the assortments so that within the mix there is something that will appeal to various tastes and figure types."

Regardless of the suit style, color is important, too, Goldstein said.

"Color is the most important swim trend of the season. In addition, prints like tribal, animal and florals have up-trended," she said.

There are trends in men's swimsuits as well. "Men's color-blocked styles are an updated classic," Goldstein said. "A more adventurous approach to color and pattern is evident."

Chattanoogan Myra Brown-Dooley, a professional model for nearly 30 years and a spokeswoman for Audi, said she likes modest, one-piece swimsuits.

"I think they look much nicer than baring everything, no matter your age," she said.

Local children's clothing designer Julie Burnes Novak also is a fan of the latest conservative swimsuit styles.

"I've even seen several lines that have swim dresses (at Target and Lands End)," she said. "These seem to be conservative without looking old or unstylish.

"It is difficult at 40 to find a suit that I feel comfortable wearing around lots of kids and friends that isn't too revealing. I don't want to wear suits that my grandmother would wear, but I'm not going to fit into a bikini anymore either."

Novak said the styles shown at StyleWorks are feminine and sexy without showing too much skin.

"I don't have to hide under a cover-up the second I get out of the pool," she said. "They look like they would be comfortable as well. I wouldn't have to worry about one coming off if I were playing in the pool with my kids."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

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 ...

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