1 of 5
Land's End

There's no more hiding.

Summer is here, and it's time to let your skin see the sun. Fashion experts say this swimsuit season is all about options, so even the most reluctant shopper should be able to find something that fits her body and style.

"It may take a while to find the suit that is meant for you, but know that it is fun and can be easy and you will find one that fits and flatters," said Michelle Casper, spokeswoman for Lands' End.

One of the top national trends this year is the one-piece, which has made a resurgence along with what designers consider to be more modest clothing options. Other styles include fitted swim skirts, exotic nature-inspired prints and patterns, and also suits with adjustable drawstrings near the legs and neckline.

But here in Utah, women tend to like a two-piece "tankini" that covers the tummy, according to Chelsea Rippy, CEO of Shade Clothing, a Utah-based company aimed at creating modest attire. Unlike many one-pieces, the suits aren't skin-tight and restrictive in the torso, she said. They offer more leeway to hide love-handles and tummy rolls and have some benefits in terms of functionality.

"Every woman wants to feel as beautiful as she can in a swimsuit," Rippy said. "Some women are uncomfortable with their tummies and some with their chests. We try to create suits that flatter those body types."

For Missy Adamson of West Valley City, her top goal for a swimsuit is coverage. She said she wants a cut that looks good but is still high enough she doesn't need to worry whether everything is still in place. As for her lower half, Adamson has started wearing a fitted swim skirt that looks almost as if it were part of a tennis outfit.

The skirt is more feminine than board shorts and doesn't ride up when you get out of the pool, Adamson said.

"Now I don't have a problem with my mom taking my pictures," she said.

A new survey by Lands' End shows that 86 percent of women want a suit that will flatter their positive features while 84 percent want a suit to hide "anxiety zones." Suits that can both flatter and hide include pieces with halter-style necklines or ruching around the middle, according to Lands' End.

Casper said that with the halter neckline, a woman can either enhance her chest or minimize. Ruching can hide unflattering rolls around the waist, while suits that have tight or "slenderizing" fabric can also conceal undesirable features.

The Lands' End survey also showed that more than 50 percent of women want to minimize or enhance their waistline. After that, women want to minimize their hips or thighs, according to the survey.

Adamson's advice to women looking for a good fit is to shop early. Off-price retailers such as T.J. Maxx have suits for great prices, but smaller sizes sell out fast, she said. Another tip is to always be looking, no matter if you have plans to buy. Adamson said she often runs into great deals and great-fitting suits when she is least expecting.

"I always seem to have a swimsuit that I love," she said.

Holly Strong, a West Jordan mom, wears suits by Modbe, another Utah-based company that designs modest styles. She also sells the suits to friends and said she likes the fact that all the suits are two pieces with a lot of fabric in the torso to cover the tummy.

Strong believes most women want a swimsuit that covers their trouble areas. With Modbe, people can mix-and-match tops and bottoms or get different sized items to fit a larger bust or backside. Like other companies, the group also offers swim skirts, she said.

Casper, with Lands' End, said she believes a woman who is confident in how her suit fits will be confident wearing the item. While much of her company's merchandise is sold online, Casper said women can access tools such as a virtual model to help determine their best fit. Consultants are also available to chat online or over the telephone.

"I actually feel that online is a great shopping experience because it allows you to do it when you're comfortable and not stressed," Casper said.

With the virtual model, women and men can create a Web-based person with similar features and measurements. The model will change to resemble your shape as you enter in specific measurements, including torso, bust and hips. It can be saved and used for future shopping trips, and a person can see four angles to the online creation.

"It's like online paper dolls," Casper said, laughing.

But in person, when you're trying on an actual swimsuit, she advises people to turn and stretch and twist in the apparel. That way you can be sure it's comfortable. Other tips include taking care of a suit so it lasts longer. That means rinsing off the suit and washing it gently.

Overall, Casper thinks women should have fun shopping.

"Embrace the fact that when you get (your suit), you are going to have fun and feel good," she said. "Swimsuit shopping can be fun."


E-mail: [email protected]