What Suits You

We pick this year's best and worst swimsuit options

Swimsuit season is always a dreadful time, in part because the fashion mags and clothing industry lag behind the modern consumer. Feeble attempts to cater to the real woman with a size 10 body result in classically worthless suggestions, such as "Large ass? Cover it with a skirt!" or "No definable stomach? Buy a high-waisted bikini!" Never mind that you'll be woefully out of style in these low-rise times (of course, no one ever gets around to addressing that).

The latest attempt at this choose-your-own-suit-adventure is H&M's Web site, My Model. By picking your attributes (Is your nose wide or narrow? Are you Asian? Pear-shaped?) to create the "virtual you," the virtual you can try on virtual swimsuits, provided the real you has high-speed Internet and wants to dispense with personal info. You come out looking a little like busted Lara Croft in a bad trannie wig, but we suppose it's better than nothing.

So what're we looking at this season? In truth, a tiny stretch of nylon spandex can only transform so much from year to year. Yeah, there are a couple of trends, but what looks good on Karolina Kurkova skipping through Ibiza may not seem so choice when you're slurping up Mr. Softee on the Jersey Shore. Let's take a look.

Grab the brass ring: From Speedo's Platinum Collection
photo: Courtesy of Speedo
Grab the brass ring: From Speedo's Platinum Collection


"The Shark Ate Off Half My Suit" Suit:

In a final-ditch effort to restore sales to the one-piece, we return to its only sexy incarnation: the cut-out maillot. If done well, we've got '80s Helmut Newton glamazon, clawing at the camera with scarlet talons while "serviced" by her blond German doppelganger. A suit like this, and you only eat meat raw. If bad, you're a classy Vegas showgirl who lingered too long at the Sizzler buffet. With one freak tan line. Roberto Cavalli's animal-print one-piece prices in at a steep $470, or there is Eres' popular Acapulco cut-out. You could also try the lower-priced takes from Speedo's Platinum collection ($150), available at speedousa.com.

The Beach Blanket Bingo:

It's supposed to be a cheeky return to times past when swimsuits, cutting low on the thigh and bottoms sitting higher on the waist, were in vogue. They can invoke 1950s bathing beauty Esther Williams or the coquettish Annette Funicello all they want. Any woman I know would rather showcase the roll than look like her grandmother in swim trunks. Boy-cut briefs also shorten the leg. If you are one of those trend-bucking, long-legged few, you could perhaps try Gap's low-cut boy short ($22), paired with the bow-tied halter ($18), or Abaeté's pricier one-piece, "the Brigitte" ($200).

The Blue Crush:

Grab your Billabong baby tee and cue the Dick Dale, 'cause every year means a slew of fashion spreads on Hot Surfer Girl style! We're still not quite sure whom this looks best on: More well-endowed chicks need more support, but these sporty styles don't do much for flat-chested girls either. If you lie somewhere in between, H&M has some pink-and-red floral hipster boy shorts and bikini tops for under 10 bucks each.

The Sporty Spice: Similar in style to the surfer, but with more racing stripes and fewer hula prints, the logo tank from Adidas can come off a bit too late '80s Summer Sanders. Still, it's not a shabby option if you're one of those few who actually swim in her suit, versus the bold pinky-toe dip in Cape Cod once a year. American Apparel's Tricot Nylon Triangle top and bottom are pretty Roller Girl hot.

Metal and Mod:

Your basic boring bikini is given a high-end, society-woman update with metal accents this summer. Blaine Trump taking a stroll on the Riviera can wear the $335 Versace metallic gold swimsuit, complete with metal Versace crest assaulting her chest. The rest of us can cruise up to the community pool in Banana Republic's streamlined version in the "14K gold hue," with ring details to complete the Princess Leia fantasy ($36 each). Graphic mod designs are also everywhere this season—Banana Republic pulls out some decent Pucci-esque triangle tops and bottoms ($38 each)—but they call it their "Kaleidoscope" print.

Bizarre hybrids—the tankini, the tubini—rear their head again this season, all very strange and not warranting description. Like the skirt angle, they're yet another poor attempt to cover up bodily imperfections. No wonder we all end up with the same bikini. Wear what suits you, whether it is one of this year's trends or your old black tank. Take a page from all those pasty, fleshy hairy-backed dudes who grace Jones Beach every summer, unabashedly pudgin' it up in the sun while their lady girl frantically readjusts her bikini to cover last night's Haagen-Dazs indulgence.

They don't care. Why should you?

 
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