• U.S.

Fashion: Suiting Up

2 minute read

Bathing suits, like ground hogs, are harbingers of a sort. Flung into department store show windows in the gusty middle of March, they hold the promise of summer in every synthetic strand; mannequins plant tanned plastic legs in the cardboard surf, shading their painted eyes against a light bulb of a sun, and even the earliest shopper sniffs about anxiously for a hint of sea smell in the icy air. But by April’s end, summer seems only split seconds away; across the U.S. last week, bathing suit sales began to show something of the shape to come. The classic one-piece is here to stay, but the more adventuresome like:

» The covered-up look. Not new this season but newly popular is the high-cut suit. What happens in back is comparatively unimportant; it can plunge deep down, stopping just short of winning its wearer a summons for indecent exposure, or it can shroud the little lady from her shoulder blades down. What matters is that the front of the suit be cut (boat-necked, V-necked or square) as close to the clavicle as possible without inducing strangulation.

— The two-piece suit. Though bikinis are finally out, the regular two-piece suit (cut high both at neckline and armhole) is very much in.

»Tops. Most in of all is the loose-fitting, blouson top. To the male eye, it looks like a sad sack, but to the female wearer it has advantages. Depending on the wearer’s particular problem, she may either remain beach-bound, confident that her figure will go undetected under such bulk, or plunge headlong into the sea, secure in the knowledge that a wet blouson clings like Saran Wrap; one fast ocean dip and what was hidden is made spectacularly manifest.

»Bottoms. To the sorrow of the thigh-heavy set, the new pant length is as brief and close-cut as possible. The once-dependable half-skirt (which could be tugged down to conceal an entire stretch of flab) is hard to find; in its place, for those who choose to accept the dare, is an abbreviated leotard which technically covers but scarcely conceals.

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