But such engineering comes at a price. Swimwear prices have continued to creep up in recent years, leaving women to pay an awful lot for a little.
The most outrageous example: Gucci's $2,425 tankini.
When Water, Water, Everywhere opened eight years ago, most suits cost about $40. Now they average $60 or $70.
"They've reached their highest point," Flake says. "I don't see companies going much higher."
Designers are using better fabrics and craftsmanship, which drives up costs, says Cole. They're paying more attention to texture ` with crochet, velvet, ribbed knits, cotton pique and puckering gracing many suits. Patterns are being used to hide or accentuate body parts. And the freshest colors are in shades of green, blue and purple.
But regardless of the visual bells and whistles, Cole says there's a simple swimwear truth that she's known for years.
"Women mutter under their breath, 'I have about 14 black suits,' but you'll never kill black," she says. "Women wear a basic black suit and feel good in it."
Pub Date: 6/07/98