It may be the one shopping trip that most women put off indefinitely. We'd rather wear the same swimsuit we've had for years than buy a new one. However, spring is a good time to take the plunge. This year's styles are making a splash with bold cutouts, exotic florals, glittering metallics and retro two-pieces. And there are lots of new ways to cover it all up! Here are my favorite tips to think about before you face that dressing room mirror:
— Plan a shopping trip. It may be easy to browse online for swimwear, but there's nothing really like actually trying it on. Set aside at least a few hours to explore all your options. There are racks and racks of swimwear out there for all sizes and shapes, and if you haven't shopped for swimwear in a while, you'll be surprised at all the stylish ways there are to suit up this year.
— Size up. I know none of us wants to admit that we may be a size 12 in a swimsuit when we wear normally wear a size 10 dress, but remember, we're talking swimwear here — tight-fitting, bare-your-skin stuff. So, don't be afraid to take it up a notch or two ... or even three. No matter the size, make sure it fits. Wrinkly is not a good look, and neither is a string bikini stretched under that dreaded muffin top.
— Try on new styles. You may think you have to have another one-piece black tank because you've always worn that style. I know it's a classic, and it may still be a good look, but be open to new possibilities! A lavender velvet high-waisted two-piece may be just the thing to perk up your summer vacation.
— Pay attention to color. There are just as many colors of swimwear out there as there are styles this season. Your skin tone is often the best indicator of which new hue will be the most flattering. Pale skin generally does not look its best in white or pastel colors; instead, opt for darker tones. And beware of shining metallics, which may reflect a larger you than you would like. Stick to matte fabrics instead.
— Study the hangtag. Before you haul dozens of suits into the dressing room, look at the hangtags. Many swimwear manufacturers have included details with sizing and body style information. Look at the label for fabric content. This can give you some invaluable tips to steer you in the right direction. Lands' End has some of the best advice available for purchasing swimwear online.
— Mix and match. Two-piece suits offer a myriad of versatile options when building a swim wardrobe. If you hit the beach for days at a time, then having several tops that can be interchanged with a variety of bottoms may be the way to go. This year, swim designers offer everything from athletic rash guard tops to ruffled bikini bottoms.
— Make it work. While some of the "cutest" suits may have all the bells and beaded whistles, it's important that fashion still functions, even in swimwear. Think about where you will be wearing the swimsuit you buy. If you're swimming laps every day at the gym, you'll want to choose a suit with great support as well as coverage. Ditto for a surfer girl. For a lounge lizard relaxing under an umbrella on the beach, the beaded bikini may be just the thing.
— Think outside the pool. There are times when you may want to wear your swimwear not only in the water but out of the water as well ... from rafting down the river to dinner on the dock, from swimming at the beach to shopping on the shore. Cover-ups now range from flowing caftans to crocheted maxi dresses to swim shorts and kimonos. Don't be afraid to create your own swim wardrobe to suit yourself whatever the occasion.
Next Week: Top swimwear trends.
To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.