Taking the Plunge

Jason Wu, Louis Vuitton and Oscar de la Renta Resort 2012 

Bathing suit season.  Ech.  I mean, YAY!  Okay, so on a stress scale of 1 to 10, donning a swimsuit rates at about a 15.  We have to expose every little wobbly bit of ourselves under the bright, mean sun while voyeuristic friends and strangers watch.  Sign me up!  Still, diving into the cool lake or paddling around in a placid pool is one of the best feelings in the world, making all of our hang-ups instantly evaporate.  

If you're looking for ways to look chic whilst poolside this summer, check out my looks for every type of woman.  With these cool cover-ups, you'll be a beach babe faster than you can say, "CANNONBALL!" Dive right in, pretty ladies! 

The MODERN SOPHISTICATE

A long, clean white shirt paired with a killer black bather is sultry without being obvious.  Choose graphic accessories and simple, sleek sandals.

1. Wooden Cuff, Jacob, $19.90; 2. Crisp Popover, Aerie, $29.40; Black Plunge One-Piece, American Eagle Outfitters, $34.55; Cassa Sandals, ALDO, $30

THE SPORTY SIREN

 For women who like to live on the edge, a bright polka-dot halter-neck suit and cute romper is sporty yet feminine.  Finish off the look with a neon bright belt and edgy metallic sandals.

1. Neon Belt, Gap, $29.99; 2. Crinkle Romper, Dynamite, $39.90; 3. Polka-Dot One-Piece, Bluenotes, $14; 4. Studded Gladiator Flats, Spring, $39.99 

THE MINIMALISTA

A sweet floral print 'kini adds a hint of printed interest to a basic black cover-up.   A classic floppy straw hat and elasticized wedge espadrilles are simple musts for every beach babe.

1. Floppy Hat, ALDO, $25; 2. Elbow-Sleeve Romper, Jacob, $69.90; 3. Scalloped Bikini, Aeropostale; 4. Andre Assous Espadrille Wedges, Town Shoes, $99.99

THE LAID-BACK LOLITA

For low-maintenance ladies who like to keep it casual, a men's shirt in a fun print is a creative way to layer up for post-swim drinks on the patio.  Make serious style waves with a great pair of shield sunglasses and cute flip-flops.

1. Shield Sunglasses, ALDO, $12; 2. Men's Checked Shirt, H&M, $34.95; 3. Floral Triangle Top ($10) and Polka-Dot Bottoms ($18.90), Garage; 4. Flip-Flops, Garage, 2 for $10

THE GIRLY-GIRL

A pink bikini in a fun flamingo print calls for an easy little dress which can do double-duty for work or on weekends as a cover-up.   Go for boy-meets-girl with a funky fedora.

1. Fedora Hat, Roots, $34; 2. Dress, H&M, $29.95; 3. Flamingo-Print Bikini, H&M, $17.95 top and $14.95 bottoms; 4. Canvas Sandals, H&M, $29.95 

The CLOSET's Essential Swimsuit Shopping Tips: 

If you're CURVY:

Choose: Choose suits with underwires and built-in cups to support your bust and high-cut leg openings to elongate your gams

Avoid:  Suits that don't have much support or are too tight

Tips: Try wrap styles or overall patterns and accentuate your waist with belts or diagonals

If you have a FULL BUST:

Choose: Built-in cups/underwires and wide, adjustable straps, fabrics with a high lycra content

Avoid: Suits that lack support or coverage and suits with belts

Tips: Try halter suits or wrap-style bathers with built-in support, use details like shirring on your lower half to draw eyes downward

If you have a SMALL BUST:

Choose: String bikinis and other soft styles, bra-type tops with underwires or light padding

Avoid:  Obvious padding 

Tips:  Use bright colours, interesting necklines and details at the top of your suit to give the illusion of a larger bust

If you have a TUMMY:

Choose:  Vertical details like v-necks, piping, patterns or seams and suits with built-in tummy-control panels

Avoid: Anything that cuts the body horizontally and too-tight bikini bottoms

Tips:  Shirring at the waist, tankinis and wrap styles can camouflage your belly.  Draw the eye upwards with v-necks and strap details

If you have a LARGE BOTTOM:

Choose:  Suits that draw the eye up with details, shirring or bright colours

Avoid:  Too much detail at the bottom and near hips, skirted styles

Tips: Use v-necks and vertical stripes, prints or patterns to elongate your torso.  Try strapless styles, dark side panels on the bottom and full-piece bathers for more bottom coverage