If you'd rather dig dandelions than shop for a swimming suit, you're not alone.

We recently gathered our courage and broached the subject with women at local shopping centers.Then we consulted swimsuit buyers and other experts for advice about the best style of suit for different body shapes.

The women we talked to were 30-something, 40-something or 50-something.

Only one, a modelesque, 30-ish blonde, said she didn't mind the experience, albeit she purchased her suits from a Calvin Klein catalog.

Others weren't so upbeat.

"I went to Mexico for Christmas. I bought a new swimming suit but I still put a towel around my waist," said a clerk at a Foothill Village gift shop.

"I don't like the suits they have now," said a hair stylist at McCarty Salon. "I need a high cut (leg) that comes up over my hip. The ones they have now are cut straight across. They make you look like you have a long body and short legs."

She found a two-piece she liked in a catalog called "Venus."

Tanya Johnson, a clerk at the Chalk Garden in Trolley Square, said "I'm not ever looking for a suit. Why ruin your day?"

Sandra Ence Paul, the fashion coordinator at ZCMI, said it's as difficult as buying a bra. "You can't just rush in and do it. You need to take time."

And Ryan L. Dolan, at Pool-N-Patio, said nobody wants to try on suits. "You have to try them on," he said, stating the obvious.

Pool-N-Patio carries a large selection of athletic suits by Speedo and Tyr. Speedo also makes one-piece, conservative cut suits in large sizes. They are suited to the water aerobics crowd and Pool-N-Patio has a good selection.

If you have the perfect body, buying a swimming suit is easier than floating in the Great Salt Lake.

If you don't, it becomes a matter of camouflage. And there you will either sink or swim.

The experts we interviewed include New York designer Nicole Miller. She was hosting a trunk show at the Nicole Miller store in Trolley Square when we stopped by. She took a few minutes from autographing neckties to discuss swimming suits.

"Everyone has an area they're concerned about," she said.

Miller recommends wearing overconstructed suits if you want to flatter a less-than-perfect figure. She wore Anne Cole suits after she had a baby. "They took 10 pounds off me."

Contrary to what many people think, she believes that a black swimsuit makes you look bigger than you are. "Black makes you look like a whale. A black texture would be better than a black suit with no texture. A solid color is the worst. You'd look (even) better in a suit with a busy pattern."

Here's more advice from the experts:

Tammy Benedict, Nordstrom: Miraclesuit is important brand name for the vocabulary of women who want to look thinner. They are made of a girdle-like material. Their motto is 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds. The brand's black one-piece with mesh in the midriff is popular.

She also advises you to try on every style you think might work. Suits look better on than on the hanger. The style you think will work won't necessarily be the best. You look at a suit and think you could never wear that and you try it on and it looks great.

Marie Pitcher, ZCMI: Get a little color in your suits. What I call the water colors (blues and greens) are friendly to the Missy (adult woman) customer. Yellow is tough unless you have a little tan. Lavendars, lilacs are flattering to an older customer.

Alison Johnson, Diane's: If you're short and short waisted, try a one-piece with a high leg, a solid color and maybe a zipper down the front. If you're short and on the heavy side, emphasize your bust with color on the top and black on the bottom. If you're in good shape, try a bikini. The space between the two pieces makes you look longer. (Diane's is new on Utah's swimsuit scene. The California chain recently opened stores in Crossroads, South Towne and Cottonwood malls. The company has a wide selection of bikinis that are sold as separates. That means you can purchase a different size top and bottom.)

Betsy Thompson, Talbots: If you have a so-called problem area, you want to draw attention away from it. If you have a long torso, look for a suit that's built for long torsos. A two-piece suit is also good. It cuts you in half. If you're top-heavy and big-busted, consider a one-piece suit with wide straps and high arm holes. Bandeaus (a strapless suit with a straight cut) and tank suits will look good on you. If you're small busted, look for a suit that has gathers on top. If you have a tummy, you want a suit that has gathers across the stomach. If you have full hips and thighs, a concern shared by many women, buy a jogger style (shorts are part of the suit) or get a skirted suit.

The forecast

The lingerie look is hot. A camisole-like top that comes down to your belly button is worn with matching bottoms. The outfit reveals an inch or so of your tummy.

The athletic look remains strong. One piece, with a high round neck, cut-in shoulders, zipper front, bright colors. A surf board is an appropriate accessory.

The outlook is warm for suits with cutouts. An example is a one-piece with a cutout midriff of sheer mesh fabric.

Swim dresses, where the fabric flows from an empire waist to the top of the legs, camouflaging tummy and thighs, reappeared last year and continue to be strong this season.

Animal prints. We don't see their end in sight.

Debuting this season: Suits made of velvet or faux suede.

For juniors, boy-leg bottoms (tight-fitting shorts with a straight leg line, the kind Miss America wore for the swimsuit competition last fall) worn with a triangle top are popular. You've got to have bone-thin thighs. Looks good on the right body, especially from behind.

Under cover

Just about anything will work as a cover up, from a semi-sexy short-sleeved shift that flows straight to your ankles to an over-size T-shirt. If you want the illusion of covering up, buy something made with sheer fabric. If you're after total camouflage, get an ankle-length terry-cloth shift. One with a hood makes a bad hair day easier to handle.

Other suggestions:

- Sarongs and pareos (pronounced pa-RAY-o). These are rectangles of cloth you can wrap around yourself. A long one is the more versatile. Tie it above your bustline (like you do a towel when you get out of the shower) to camouflage your torso, tummy and hips. Tie it around your waist to cover your legs. A short one tied at your waist makes a mini-mini skirt. Not much of a coverup, but cute, very cute.

- An over-size, button-down gauze shirt, or an oversize man's shirt.

- A short wrap-around skirt that fits over your matching swimsuit.

- An A-line cotton dress. Just about any sundress can double as a coverup.