Originally created 07/04/06

It's anything goes this season for fun in sun



Guys never think of bikinis as depressing or boring. That's because they don't have to wear them; they just get to look.

Women know that if diamonds are a girl's best friend, bathing suits are her worst enemy.

"So many (swimsuits) are hideously ugly, and it's hard to find a top and bottom that both fit well," said Hannah Elliot, 18, a 2006 graduate of Greenbrier High School. "If you want a nice one that is attractive and will last, you have to pay a lot of money for it."

Laila Masghati, a 17-year-old rising senior at Lakeside High School, said the problem is "too much selection. It's overwhelming."

Luckily for frustrated and dissatisfied swimsuit shoppers, this season's new bathing suits are all about creating a glamorous look for every woman.

Many swimsuits are so chic that they look more like evening wear than pool gear. As Suze Yalof Schwartz, of Glamour magazine, declared, "The little black dress has been translated into a little black bathing suit."

What makes a swimsuit so glam? Vogue proclaims we should all think retro.

Hot prints include polka dots, stripes, paisley and tie dye reminiscent of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Even the cuts are retro: The one-piece has returned with racy plunges, cutouts and high-cut legs that make one-pieces as desirable as bikinis for showing off.

Retro also is about flattering women's curves (think Marilyn Monroe), designers say, and strapless bathing suits are in.

Laila advises that strapless suits are great for avoiding tan lines, but really only practical for tanning.

Otherwise, when you're swimming or moving around, you'll lose your top, she said.

Designed for a flattering look, draped halters are fitted with bra support for an attractive top and strategically placed shirring to hide body fat on the midsection. It is the 1950s pinup girl look.

Ishita Das, 18, a 2006 Lakeside graduate, is looking for a little coverage.

"I don't like to show too much skin so I don't really wear (bikinis)," said the incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "Mostly I wear tankinis for the long tops because they're more flattering on my body."

Sexy solids - reds, corals and browns - are in, too. As in regular clothes this summer, black and white are about as classy as it gets for bathing suits.

For the ultimate versatility, mix-and-match enters this season to gives wearers what they've always dreamed of: The top and bottom of your swimsuit don't have to be the same color or even the same pattern.

Ishita's favorite bathing suit features a multicolored striped top with a plain black bottom. She prefers it because she wanted a cute design on top while still creating a slimmer look on the bottom.

Despite all that is out there, the signature of the summer is embellishments, and lots of them. From belts to rings to beads, prints and cut are not the only opportunities to dress up a suit and create the illusion of smaller waists and bigger busts.

Popular additions also include "hippie" accessories such as crocheted tops, seashells and all things wooden.

Sasha Iglehart, the deputy fashion director at Glamour magazine, has been quoted as saying, "Now, more than ever, anything goes. Go with whatever works for you."

It looks as though there's room to explore. Don't be afraid of those Lycra horrors because this is the season of looking beautiful in whatever you want to wear.

Katharine Diehl, 18, a 2006 graduate of Lakeside High School, will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall.