"While bikinis will always have a place in the sun, even they are less skimpy this year than in prior years, with boy-cut bottoms covering some thigh," says April Masini, author of AskApril.com. And one-piece suits are popular this season, she says, because many of today's pool- and beach-goers are women over 50.
"Baby boomers are more datable, more sexual and more active than ever, and they're hitting the beaches in record numbers," Masini says. "They've found that the one piece is often the most flattering for the majority of them."
For women past their taut teens and twenties, one-pieces often offer hidden controls that a two piece simply can't.
"We have one-piece suits that have tummy tamers, which is like a little girdle sort of thing," says Howarth, of Sea Quest. "We have one pieces that are hip minimizers, waist minimizers; some have bust enhancers. And [bust] minimizers too, for those who are well-endowed and want to cover up more."
In addition, some destination spots are requiring more demure sunbathing attire, says Fink, of Saks Fifth Avenue.
"A common trend we are seeing is that many resorts and cruises are requiring women to be covered up when they are dining or shopping inside, so a one-piece bathing suit is more important to a woman's wardrobe than ever," Fink says.
The one-piece provides more versatility, as well, when going from lounging at the pool to a nice watercress salad for lunch at the resort cafe.
"We have seen sexier takes on a one-piece from designers like Diane von Furstenberg, Vix, Moschino, and Dolce & Gabbana," Fink says, "and our customer has responded positively. [In those,] she can throw on a sarong or skirt for an instant outfit."
Women also are no longer just using their bathing suits for pool-lounging or sunbathing, as their grandmothers once did.
"Instead of sitting by a pool, our customer is chasing after children and grandchildren; she is entertaining by a pool, or she is exercising in the water," Fink says. "There are people who come in our stores who play volleyball or go scuba diving and surfing," Quinn Stickline says, "and they want more coverage."