Bathing suit trends go egalitarian

BEIRUT: Most women will sympathize with the excruciating, sometimes tear-inducing experience of shopping for a swimsuit. I remember a time not too long ago when it seemed every swimsuit aside from athletic, Speedo-style one-pieces were bikinis that tied at the hips and behind the neck.

Not only did they offer minimal coverage, but these fun-inhibiting scraps of fabric meant more time at the beach readjusting and retying than actually swimming.

But it isn’t any one trend that stands out this season among the colorful cuts of neoprene on store racks and runways; it’s the variety. Got an embarrassing lower-back tattoo? There’s a high-waisted bottom to cover it. Need to hide stretch marks? A cutout one-piece will do the trick. Need to keep a voluptuous chest in place? Try a high-collar neckline.

The swimwear presented at local fashion shows featured collections that have gone a little more democratic by offering women the freedom to choose from styles to flatter a zillion different body types.

At LIPS Summer Fashion Week Wednesday, models came out in threes, and one in each threesome was inevitably wearing a one-piece of sorts. There was the more typical range of strapless or halter one-piece suits with bold tiger prints and subtle, slimming blacks.

Then there were more revealing one-pieces, which left one imagining the inevitable and unusual tan lines.

Diamony showed a one-piece with a floral lace design that would leave the tummy looking like a blooming trellis.

A one-piece by Zeki at LIPS fashion week was draped like a toga across the stomach, and several others had sides shredded down to mere strings connecting top and bottom.

The rise of sexier, but more conservative bathing suits follows a recent increase in one-piece purchases, according to a brief report by AFP on swimwear trends. Data from market research group NPD showed that one-piece sales from April 2013 to March 2014 had increased 15 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

One-piece sales grew more than $150 million between 2013 and 2014 while two-piece suits saw a 9 percent loss.

“The one-piece has the ability to be able to contour one’s figure in a better way,” Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief retail analyst, told AFP.

That same report also found financial evidence that more buyers are mixing and matching their bathing suits. That makes sense as two-piece shapes are diversifying too.

At Wednesday’s fashion show there were several bikini tops featuring high necklines, perfect for women looking to keep things locked down up top. Details also included loose ruffles fluttering across tops, which offer a great distraction from smaller chests.

If there is any color trend this season it is the emphasis on rain forest inspiration. Zeki showed both bold floral paisleys and leafy foliage-themed suits. That Amazonian inspiration might have a little to do with all buzz around Brazil this summer. Organizers of the Marie France show Downtown Wednesday gave the World Cup a clear plug as models came out draped in flags for favored football teams Brazil, Germany and Italy.

And for women who’ve worked out all winter in order to fit into those string-tied bikinis, well, more options mean there are plenty of itty-bitty bathing suits, too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 30, 2014, on page 2.




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