FASHION's obsession with the past has caught up with swimwear. As skimpy bikinis and thongs give way to more covered-up looks of the '40s and '50s, the bathing beauty once again takes over from the beach bunny.
More covered up, however, doesn't necessarily mean less sexy. The newly resurgent swimsuits place emphasis squarely on the bosom, as molded cup bras with underwire construction give the body glamorous curves and figure-enhancing support. One-piece and two-piece suits alike feature the '40s-style bra, built into strapless bandeaus, halters and maillots.
The bottoms of suits also hark back to Esther Williams movies. Some cut straight across the thigh for a boy-leg effect. Others have an overskirt that mimics the straight cut. Many two-piece suits feature higher waists and not-so-high-cut thighs.
Of course, for figures that need a slenderizing line, the slightly higher-cut thigh still is popular.
Swimsuit designers also are taking the suit beyond the beach this year, offering cover-ups that have multiple personalities.
Matching miniskirts, bike shorts and leggings take the swimsuit from the beach to a sidewalk cafe. Oversized shirts in silk or sheer organza replace the beach robe as the favored throw-over topper.
The latest obsession for embellishment makes some of this season's swimsuits almost impractical for the beach and more fit for the dance floor. Lavish embroidered sequins, pearls and beads adorn swimsuits that a mermaid could love.
Prints make a splash with '60s psychedelics and flower power florals leading the way. The '60s influence also emerges in sexy cutouts covered with mesh insets. Cole of California introduced mesh in 1965 with the aptly named Scandal Suit.
Think Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Lamour or Brigitte Bardot, don those big black glasses and BE glamorous.