Mirror, Mirror: Summer swimwear: It's not just a bathing suit, it's an outfit

(MICHAEL WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
(MICHAEL WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 11, 2013

Bikinis on the sand? Of course.

Monokinis at the swim-up bar? No problem.

One-piece by the pool? Absolutely.

Any swimwear silhouette goes this summer - as long as you feel fabulous in it. It's the print that makes it of-the-moment.

Think bold, black-and-white patterns, multicolored stripes, and beaded details.

And then there are the accessories.

"People are making entire looks out of their swimwear," said Taylor Schlette, the Baltimore-based marketing coordinator for the South Moon Under retail chain.

"Add a cute little hat, bangles, layer in some long necklaces. Outfitting a bikini can be fun."

We've got more than two months of summer left, and with those bathing suits easing their way to the for-sale racks, there's no time like the present to try out these looks.

One-piece wonder

We gave this cobalt blue, fringe monokini (on the cover)even more bohemian pop with a beaded headband. Monokinis, Schlette says, are best in solid hues. That way the focus is on the cutouts.

"But you can play with texture," Schlette added, "as in fun crochets and shimmer."

This summer's festival fashion trends have given many a fashionista license to channel her inner hippie wearing tribal prints and tassels.

"You don't see the black one-piece any more with the simple white cover-up," said Bre Furlong, manager at Cherry Hill boutique Love on a Hanger. "Everything is extra funky and eye-catching."

Hats off to fringe

A floppy hat (on the cover) is playful and then some.

"Beach hats are not just cute, they are functional," Furlong said. That's why we added this oversize straw number to a minty green two-piece.

But it's the fringe along the chest that makes this look phenomenal. It accentuates the bustline while the slightly high thigh cut still completely covers the tush.

"It's not about being super-skimpy this summer," says Schlette.

Be better bold

All you need with this trendy black-and-white suit (top right) is a pair of bold sunglasses - on the eyes or off the suit.

"The new trend with sunglasses is a modified cat-eye," said Sissy Harris, owner of Delaware boutique Peter Kate.

The black-and-white print comes right off the spring ready-to-wear runways. Next spring, however, fashion insiders say we'll likely have a more subdued warm-weather season. So, what to do with the loud stuff next summer?

"Wear them," says Harris. "Bold prints always pop in the summer. You can never have too much with such little fabric."

Prints or bust

Flowers are dominating summer fashion, so this floral halter two-piece (lower right) is a 2013 win-win.

But this print is so strong, and sweet, it doesn't really need anything extra, said Schlette.

"Ikat, gypsy, art deco, or tribal - all prints are so very big this summer," she said. "A good print never goes out of style for the summertime."

Sporty with stripes

This summer, stripes go with everything. As do fishtail braids. This pattern infuses athleticism into the swimwear look (upper left) but also preserves the daintiness necessary for sunning.

The cup is nice, too. "For a while, we were seeing so many bra-shaped cups and heavy bustiers," Schlette said.

The new softer triangle shape is evidence of the boho trend. At festivals like Coachella and Philadelphia's own Roots Picnic, dancing stylistas are pairing bikini tops with maxi skirts or cutoff shorts.

It's layering at its best.

Daytime shimmer

The skin exposed in Brazilian-style bathing suits may be enough to grab your attention, but the beading on this one (lower left) makes it even more of a head-turner.

"Since you can't wear sequins in the summer, it's a way to add sparkle to what you are wearing," Furlong said.

Add a straw bag - big enough for sunblock, water, and iPads - so you don't have to stop "pinning" and "liking" at the beach.

"People are just so fashion-aware these days," Furlong added. "They look for something that stands out. They look for something that can be accessorized. They look for something to layer."


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704. Follow her on Twitter @ewellingtonphl.

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