By Courtney Danielson and Elise French
Tanned, taut, tantalizing. Oh how we love the exposed flesh of summer. And although one of the great things about this time of year is that we can throw on cut-offs and a tank top with basically no thought and be good to go, there is one summer clothing item we need to put a bit more planning into ~ that’s right, I’m talking about … dun dun…the all-important swimsuit. Now, I’ll be the first to say that rule #1 is that you have to feel comfortable in whatever bathing suit/beach attire you choose. It’s hard to enjoy a day at the beach if you’re constantly worried about something popping out to say hello or that if you bend over your too-small bikini bottom might disappear forever. So yes, always ~ and this goes for both guys and gals ~ choose something that’s flattering to your shape, that you can move in, and that doesn’t make you look like you don’t have a mirror at home (‘cause remember, these days, there’s almost no chance that someone’s not going to take your picture and instantly post it everywhere for the cyberworld to see).
That said, beach wear ~ from bathing suits to accessories to cover ups ~ follows trends just like the other parts of our wardrobes, so whether you want to go full-on trendy and get exactly what you saw walk down the runway or prefer incorporating elements of a trend more subtly into your look, here are some tips on what’s hot for Summer 2012. From delicate lace detailing to rocker-chic studs , women’s bathing suit trends are all over the map this season, but that just means more chances to find the suit of your dreams.
FOR THE LADIES
Trend #1: Lace Details
This season’s first trend is a throwback to something we saw last year, but designers have upped the ante ~ and now the sky’s the limit on the sexiness factor. Last year’s demure lace details have given way to a full-blown lace lingerie extravaganza in swimsuit form, but you can still find a happy medium between looking too young and cutesy and looking like you just wandered off a porn set. Think: eye-catching and feminine.
Trend #2: Bandeau Tops
There’s nothing that ruins a great tan more than a whole bunch of strap patterns across your back and shoulders. But there’s also nothing more embarrassing than putting on your strapless bikini top and having the girls head rapidly towards your knees or, heaven forbid, pop out of your strapless bikini top the minute you get into public ~ so this trend comes with a warning: know your boobs and whether they can handle strapless. If they can, go ahead and step out in one of this season’s bandeau tops. These designs aren’t entirely new, but the old classic has been improved upon with the addition of fabulously placed ruching and fantastic neon colors.
Trend #3: Embellishments
Super-confident and like to stand out in a crowd? Then definitely choose a swimsuit that’s sporting some bling. At first glance it may not seem practical for swimming in the ocean or diving into a pool, but designers have found a way to add jewels, rivets, and other hardware to their swimsuit lines while keeping them water-friendly. My favorite styles this year have large, brooch-like designs that add color, shine, and some whimsy to your suit ~ and can take you from pool to post-pool-party party with their sparkle. Plus, no need to add a lot of additional jewelry that would likely get lost and probably give you some odd tan lines anyway!
Trend #4: Retro Throwbacks
As they say, everything old is new again, although the true classics never really go out of style. You can never go wrong with a simple black and white polka dot pattern, but if you want all eyes on you, spice it up with an assortment of bright neon colors! Ruffles are everywhere this year, too, and when strategically placed can be used to accentuate your assets or cover anything you want to hide. If you’re a bit on the theatrical side, why not go for the whole retro Betty Paige/Vargas girl pinup look?
Trend #5: One Pieces
Please don’t tell me you think one pieces can’t be sexy. Please. Sure, if you feel most comfortable in a straightforward one piece, monochromatic suit, that’s exactly what you should get ~ that’s a great go-to look that’ll never go out of style. But have you seen how far one pieces have come? Cutouts, top and bottom connected by the tiniest of strings, insanely high cut legs and low cut tops, brilliant colors and patterns…and the best part is that with so many different one piece configurations, you really can find one that is drop-dead sexy but still covers your less fave body parts!
So you’ve got the suit and you feel good about it. Awesome. Now it’s time to complete your beach look by adding a cover up, some sexy shoes, and maybe a tote…and a hat.
Let’s talk about the cover up first.
Trend #1: Animal Print
Animal prints are showing up everywhere this year, so it only makes sense that they’ve made it to the beach, too. Animal prints are all the rage, but there’s a new twist ~ we’re used to “reality” colors like brown, black, and white, but this season, animal prints come in a whole assortment of colors and range from the transparent gossamer to light cotton ~ and also range from sporty and practical to fancy enough to fit right in at a summer dinner party.
Trend #2: Lace
Oh yes, lace truly is everywhere this season. Whether you opt for a completely lace cover up (and bear in mind, it’s up to you exactly how much you want to cover…styles range from dangerously short tunics to full length, flowy shells) or one that only has lace accents, you’ll look feminine and breezy…And if white lace isn’t your thing, no worries ~ colored lace abounds.
Trend #3: Nautical
The nautical look ~ some years very literal and others, more…interpretational ~ never, ever seems to go out of style. You can be 8, 18, or 80 and still pull it off in some way, shape, or form. This year, choose from nautical emblems, blue and white stripes, red and white stripes, and nautical collars to show your appreciation for the sea. Some cover-ups are substantial (and long) enough to double as a dress for a cookout or casual date with your sweetie…and if you’re lucky enough to own a boat or have a fabulous friend who owns a fabulous yacht, perfect!
And now for your Beach Bag:
Whether you’re heading to the beach or the pool, your regular handbag probably isn’t going to cut it. You need something that can withstand the sand, chlorine, and sun while also carrying everything you usually need in addition to your towel, sun block, reading materials, cover-up, etc. If you’ve gone wild with color and pattern for your swimsuit, go for a monochromatic bag ~ if your suit is one or two colors, have a blast and go for a fun patterned bag. Your bag is the perfect way to incorporate a trend without going overboard (no pun intended)…animal prints, lace, nautical…And now is not the time to look for the finest leather on the market ~ go for canvas, sturdy cotton, even plastic. You’re also going to want a bag that gives you easy access to your stuff but has some sort of closure at the top ~ and if it comes with a smaller bag where you can keep your phone, ID, cash, and credit cards safe, even better!
And How About a Hat?
It seems that a girl can up her cuteness factor immeasurably by donning a bright, floppy-brimmed hat…and that some girls ~ now mind you, I said some…can bring grown men to their knees by oh-so-casually throwing on a cowboy hat with a bikini. Ok, I can see where you guys are coming from…but ladies, if you’re going to wear a hat because it provides protection from the sun or because you want every guy on the beach imagining you riding the mechanical bull, there are still some rules. The most important rule is that if you have a big accessory on your head, tone down what you’re wearing from the neck down. Remember, too, that hats keep your body heat in, so look for something with a big brim and a close weave, but still made out of a fabric that breathes. Want to pull in that embellishment trend? Pin a broach to your hat, find one with some tasteful metal studs, iron on an anchor appliqué, or trim it with lace. Or find a hat with bold polka dots. I’d stay away from a sailor’s cap, though…too costumey.
I’ve saved the best for the last…SHOES!
I adore shoes. They are my happy place. I have an entire walk-in closet devoted to shoes and boots. But I do have to say that (and I might be making some enemies here) shoe styles have gotten a wee bit out of hand lately. I mean, c’mon…4 inch platforms with 5 inch wedges? Straps that buckle half-way up our calves? 3 inch platforms with metal tipped 6
inch stiletto heels? The average woman’s height used to be about 5’ 5” ~ now it’s about 6 feet. Now, while I admit there’s a time and place (midnight, the bedroom/corner) for such monumental footwear, let’s be sensible about what we wear to the beach, aka that place with all the sand, rocks, and skimpy outfits. Wear stilettos and you’ll either break an ankle or take an hour to make it over to your friends (who may or may not mock you for looking like a hooker). Wear those high platform clunkers with just a bathing suit and your feet will look enormous. Let’s compromise ~ how about a nice wedge mule that you don’t mind getting wet? Or a wedge sandal that will stay put if you’re going to be walking on sand? We don’t want to sacrifice the height that’s going to make our legs look absolutely fab, but pitching headlong into the sand just ain’t that sexy. And hey, even flip flops are acceptable ON the beach ~ after all, you have a ginormous tote bag where you can hide a sexier pair of shoes for later. The same rules apply for shoes as for totes and hats ~ go crazy with color if that’s your one statement piece ~ otherwise, think muted colors (which will make your legs look longer, anyway)…and the trend that Crocs started, all those little accessories you can add onto them to customize your feet, has gone mainstream, so lots of places sell little flowers or bows or metal designs that you can clip right to your shoes.
FOR THE MEN
So it seems like the grass is indeed always greener. We ladies get to pick out cute swimwear outfits and accessorize and coordinate to our hearts’ content while men have (if they are smart) only a few options. But that means the stakes are much higher and the prep time much longer for us…and guys have it so easy!! But “easy” doesn’t mean there aren’t some things for the men to take into consideration before “swimsuiting up.”
Most guys ~ tall, short, fit, chubby, pale, tan…whatever ~ should stick to board shorts. And the board shorts should be in a color that does not instantly become see-through when moisture (sweat or water, thank you very much, pervs) hits it. There are lots of hearty colors to choose from and designers have given their blessing to guys wearing pink and neon colors. And as we all know, board shorts come in every pattern under the sun, so live it up. One note of caution, though ~ if you’re on the shorter side, take a look at how far past your knees your board shorts go. A tiny bit above the knee, fine. At the knee or a tiny bit below, fine. Inching down towards your calf muscles? Oh dear boy take them off and find a shorter pair or you’re going to look like you’re standing in a hole.
The Truly Blessed
There are on this earth men who ~ whether by genetics or obsession ~ possess The Perfect Body. For them, it’s acceptable (and preferable, if I have a good view) to don square-cut boxer brief style swimsuits. In black. And body hugging, not nut-hugging. Y’feel me?
The Always Prepared
Some guys don’t leave home, even for the beach, without a Leatherman, iPod, sunscreen, Frisbee, pack of (shame on you) cigarettes, keys, gum, bottle opener, lighter, sunglasses, change, etc. For these quasi-MacGyvers, cargo shorts ~ with their thousand and one pockets ~ are cool…and luckily, they come in primarily muted colors ~ olive, khaki, navy. And cargo shorts have this lovely habit of sliding down just far enough in the front to make ladies’ imaginations ignite.
And Finally, Don’t You Ever…
…wear jean shorts or a Speedo. Or sandals with socks. Or a T-shirt that says, “Bikini Inspector.” I’m not kidding. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. Are we clear?
Check Out These Sweet Swimsuits!
By Steph Moore
Utilizing unique and luxurious textiles, Inca delights the girly-girl with feminine pink paisley and candy-colored hues while more daring gals can take a walk on the wild side with bold tribal-inspired and animal prints from cheetah to snakeskin. Enhancing the collection with depth and texture, fabrics are injected with crochet detailing, subtle embellishments, romantic ruffles and chic sequin accents. Luxurious silks, sequined tunics, and body conscious dresses with plunging necklaces can be paired with sandals and flip flops during the day and sexy stilettos at night to instantly take your look from beach babe to bombshell! The Inca collection is available nationwide at select specialty retail outlets and online at www.theincacollection.com.
The eponymous 2012 Red Carter swimwear collection puts a modern spin on iconic swim fashion by updating the brand’s signature silhouettes with new styles that fit, flatter and hug all the right curves. Bringing utterly sophisticated and crave-worthy fashion to the shore, the collection merges sleek and sporty aesthetic with mesh paneling, nail-head embellishments, pin-up silhouettes and bold color blocking and stripes. Convertible straps, skirted bottoms, padded removable cups and waistline slimmers makes the versatile collection perfect for the playful beach babe, sporty sea-siren or glamour girl ready to set sail in style. The Red Carter collection is available at select retailers nationwide and online at www.RedCarter.com.
Give Your Corner Of The Beach Some Style!
Decorate the sand with a vibrant towel featuring everyone’s favorite crocodile! These 36” x 72” classic yet playful Lacoste Beach towels are bold and bright, oversized and ultra-absorbent, and will be the first thing you head for after a refreshing dip in the water. The Lacoste Beach collection retails for $24.99-$39.99 and is available at www.lacoste.com.
Making waves just in time for summer, the debut Boss Beach collection impresses with a full line of plush towels available in an array of colors and patterns. Expanding the brand’s portfolio beyond classic wardrobe statements, the 36” x 72” towels retail for $25.00 and are available at www.HugoBoss.com.
Have a great (and stylish!) summer, everyone!
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