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Finding the right swimsuit to fit you, your wallet

It's always swimsuit season in Florida. But it seems for most folks, the season really kicks in Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. If you're trying to find the right suit for your shape for the right price, check out these tips from Audrey Slater, fashion director at Redbook magazine.

What's the best swimsuit for your figure?

There are no definitives, but some general rules of thumb include:

• Busty women should seek out the most supportive styles, which mean halter and/or underwire tops. Its now also very easy to find swimsuits in cup sizes, like the way bras are sized, to get a really secure, supportive look.

• Small-chested women look curvier in styles with extra detailing at the bust line, like strategic pattern, ruffles or beading. Triangle string bikinis work especially well on this body type.

• Pear shaped frames look more balanced in suits that draw the eye up, i.e. bright color above the waist. A high-cut leg will actually elongate her bottom half.

• Rouching, surplice wrap-style suits, cleverly placed seams and diagonal details all slim the tummy area. A tankini is also a good bet if you want to conceal your middle.

How do you know you are getting the best deal for your buck?

While swimsuits can be expensive, you shouldn't have to pay more than $80 for one that looks great on you, and depending on the style you want, you may be able to do much better. Mass retailers like Target, Old Navy, and JC Penney stock swimsuits for as low as $25. There's more variety and choice in the $65-$80 range, but if this is beyond your budget, you can try off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, who have a decent array of past season styles from the big brands.

When is the best time to shop for a swimsuit?

That depends on what your priority is. If you are looking for lots and lots of selection, shop April through Memorial Day, when stores are most fully stocked. If you want to get a deal, you have to wait until after July 4th, when everything left goes on sale.

Should you take a friend along?

If you have someone that's got your best interests at heart, and who's taste you trust, certainly. The key to finding your ideal suit is trying on as many as you possibly can, so its helpful to have an extra set of eyes, and a pair of hands, if only to run from the fitting room to the racks without having to get all dressed again!

What are your top five tips for beach readiness?

• Groom, groom, groom: shave, get a pedi, and self-tan.

• Get yourself sunglasses, a cute beach bag, a sun hat, flip-flops and a cover-up you love, so that you're stylishly equipped for your destination.

• Take your suit for a test-run around the house: sit, jump up and down, and bend over — all moves one may end up making on the beach — to check for "spillage". Adjust your suit accordingly.

• Bring along whatever you need to relax: your iPod, a great read, a cooler with snacks and beer (if it is allowed on your beach), a Kadima set, and the knowledge that you look totally hot in your suit!

• Sunblock. Before you leave the house. Reapply throughout the day. No excuses!

Sherry Robinson can be reached at (727) 893-8305 or robinson@sptimes.com.

Finding the right swimsuit to fit you, your wallet 05/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2008 1:30pm]

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