Form follows function

May 22, 1991

This summer, designers have come around to engineering swimsuits that work as foundations. Foundations, a few decades ago, was the discreet and ladylike way to mention unmentionable underwear. These days, fashion and conversation are more up front.

The sleek, unstructured suit of the '80s was inspired by athletic wear and athletic bodies with little support other than that built into it by toned muscles and firm curves.

This year's suits acknowledge an older and wiser customer who wants a suit that's smart enough to make her look her best. And she can find suits that lift where needed, pull where necessary, and cover parts best left unseen.

Structured suits show working parts -- the bosom underwires show, waistline stays are top stitched, and seaming hugs the derriere.

You can blame, or thank, Madonna for bringing underwear into the spotlight. Recent news photos showed her flashing a bra and girdle look at the film festival in Cannes. This material girl is getting some extra support. After all, she is thirtysomething.

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