By Jill Bennet

This summer's swimwear is a cut above, and I mean that literally! Suits are cut up, cut out, cut high, and cut low. Let's cut right to the chase:

swimwearCut Ups:
Picture a patchwork quilt, where solids mix with prints, circles mix with squares, and the end result is a quirky combination of color and pattern. Color blocking is at the forefront of this mix, with many designers combining different solids, outlining them in black, and creating a stained glass look on the body. Some designers are combining solids with bold graphic prints for an 80's Mod look, while others combine multiple small floral prints together for a more delicate patchwork appearance. In many of these delicate suits the blooms of the fabric are set apart by lace and lingerie binding for a very feminine feel.

Of course, there's nothing more cut up than fringe! Fringe has taken over this season's runways. One and two-piece suits are trimmed in fringed tops, bottoms, skirts, and side ties. The wonderful thing about fringe is that it serves as great camouflage for all of our figure flaws. Small busts get extra volume, large busts get hidden, and the bottom shake is in the fringe, not the booty! Fringe is your friend!

Cut Outs:
This trend is most obvious in this season's one-piece suits. The "monokini" is mainstream this season, and it's a great design for the modern woman who wants the look of a two-piece but the coverage of a one-piece swimsuit. These suits have keyhole cutouts at the sides, front, or back. They incorporate dramatic strapping cuts through the body and bodice, including one-shoulder straps. They can be held together by zippers, lace, neoprene, and crochet.

Crochet on it's own is probably the most important fabric of the summer! Every designer has crochet in their collection, and it is, after all, the ultimate cut out fabric! This season there are both one and two-piece crochet suits. Most are solid with a lining of the same color or contrast color, but there are some beautiful printed crochet fabrics as well. Of course, it's not the same old "granny with the crochet needle" you think of! These fabrics are stretch Lycra and laser cut so that they can't possibly ever unravel.

That brings me to laser cuts! Have you ever seen a swimsuit that has a scalloped edge, but no hem? That's a laser cut. When a fabric is cut with a laser, the edges of the fabric are sealed, which eliminates any fraying. This opens the door to limitless new precise open details like circles, flowers, and lacey shapes.

Cut High and Low:
Suits tend to be cut with a little more coverage this season. The "Katy Perry" high-waisted retro bottom is conventional now, but when you wear it you immediately look like a fashion forward style setter. And the best part…it covers and tucks the tummy!

When you want more coverage in the top, turn to the season's hottest crop tops and bustiers. Crop tops tend to be a bit sportier, and they lend volume to a small bust. Bustier tops offer underwire support and coverage, and they have a sexier, lingerie look. Never before have there been so many bra-sized tops that offer coverage and support to the full-busted woman. For the woman who wants something a little lower cut, look for plunge neckline one-pieces and low-rider briefs on bikinis.

As for this season's colors, think bright! Coral is key, whether you opt for the more orange-melon shades, or the pink-red range. It's a must try color because it looks good on every skin tone! If your tastes gravitate toward a more blue, cooler color palette, try purple! It's definitely fresh and new!

So now it's time for you to make the cut! Visit your favorite swimsuit retailer and cut a beautiful figure!

*Jill Bennett is the owner of Birthday Suits, a nationally recognized chain of swim boutiques on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 2013 marks Birthday Suits' 30th year of "covering the beaches."


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