Fit to be tried: You can buy a bathing suit online

May 04, 1998|By Maryk Ethridge | Maryk Ethridge,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Have you seen the Jenny Craig commercial that shows a chic woman entering a dressing room to try on a bathing suit?

As she's shutting the door, she looks placid. You know what's coming. A few seconds later, presumably after she has put on the suit, she yowls.

Yup. The worst part of the whole bathing suit thing for women is trying it on. Once you buy it and you're at the beach or the pool, you can try to ignore yourself. But you can't do that under an arsenal of fluorescent lights. Pasty imperfections are just waiting for you to study, dwell on - and weep.

I have an answer besides Jenny Craig. Buy that suit online. No dressing room. No going through racks and racks of thongs you wish you could wear and floral skirted things your mother did. No three-way mirrors or unforgiving lights.

Here are the best sites I found:

http://www.landsend.com.

Catalog retailer Lands' End has put together an incredibly easy site to navigate, which includes Swimwear '98. It even takes you step by step through the measuring process (believe me, you want a dear and closemouthed friend to help with this). You then label yourself one of four common body types: hourglass (yeah, right), triangle, inverted triangle or rectangle. Click on one of those and Lands' End suggests styles.

Somehow I didn't see myself in there anywhere (what, no parabola?) so I clicked on the star-shaped icon that displays suits flattering to all body types. Another feature allows you to pair up tops and bottoms for 216 two-piece options.

What sets Lands' End apart is that it is not lewd, is easy to figure out and is easy to order from.

Another bathing suit maker, Jantzen, launched its site, www.jantzenswim.com, to let shoppers at least look at appropriate suits in the privacy of their home. The company created the site because it found that 80 percent of shoppers didn't buy suits the first time they went looking. Jantzen gives you a choice of topics - pick "your personal fit" and choose among "body length," "bust," "tummy" or "hips-thighs" as your "area of concern."

Whatever you choose - say, tummy - the swimsuits that deal with your concerns are displayed with descriptions and style numbers.

Unfortunately, you can't order online. You must enter your hometown for a list of retailers near you. And nowhere does it tell you how to measure yourself.

Pub Date: 5/04/98

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