With warm weather here, it’s time to break out your best beach look. For those of us on the hunt for a new suit, this year brings ample style and variety to please any taste and body type.

A number of hot looks have graced fashion runways this year, but whether they’ll sink or swim in Maine’s cold waters and conservative fashion climate remains to be seen.

Take, for instance, the sexy monokini, which has garnered loads of national buzz. This suit is a compromise between a traditional one-piece and a skimpy bikini. Styles vary, but in general the suits feature a strip of fabric (and sometimes nothing more than a string) connecting the top to the bottom.

The suits call attention to the sides and waist, and tend to work best with well-proportioned, hour-glass shapes.

At the Dy-No-Mite swim- wear shop in Old Orchard Beach, owner Rose Gani has stocked a few monokinis, but said “it doesn’t look like it will do too well in the New England area.”

Those of us seeking a fashion-forward look more in line with the local vibe will find much to love in the one-piece suits with a few peek-a-boo cut-outs.

Another swimsuit trend likely to grace local beaches takes its cue from evening wear with glamorous one-shoulder styles, found in both bikinis and one-piece suits.

Of course, the look that never goes out of style is the one that hides our winter sins. This summer serves up numerous suits perfect for masking things we’d rather conceal from public view. Many of these pieces take inspiration from vintage ’50s styles with flirty skirts and low-cut legs.

Another great trend involves fabric treatments that provide stylish detailing while hiding our imperfections.

“In creating our 2010 summer swim collection, L.L. Bean’s design and merchandising teams noted a strong trend toward figure-flattering features such as shirring, ruching and twist-tie tops,” said Mary Rose MacKinnon, an L.L. Bean spokeswoman. “This year’s popular suits include updated looks for skirted one-pieces, tankinis and halter styles.”

Gani, who’s run Dy-No-Mite for 31 years, said a customer favorite continues to be the store’s large selection of mix-and-match tops and bottoms.

These separates — which range from bikinis to tankinis — allow women of all body types to find a suit that’s a perfect fit, with cup sizes that range all the way up to E and F.

L.L. Bean also offers mix-and-match separates in the BeanSport line and the new Mariner line. Don’t expect bikini tops, but the collections feature bright colors such as aqua and fuchsia, and fun prints including floral, polka dots and stripes.

Even with similar bright shades in the Old Orchard Beach Store, Gani said black and brown suits remain the store’s top sellers.

Another trend to look for this season is swimwear made with functional fabrics.

“Summer 2010 also brings sun-protective fabrics to the forefront,” L.L. Bean’s MacKinnon said. “For example, our Oceanside Swimwear is made of a premium Italian fabric with a UPF 50-plus rating, and it is also chlorine resistant.”

These should prove popular with the active set, because, as MacKinnon points out, “whether kayaking the islands of Casco Bay, walking the shoreline at Popham or picnicking with the kids at Kettle Cove, L.L. Bean customers are looking for outdoor active swimwear that looks, fits and feels great.”

And even those of us whose summer itinerary includes more poolside cocktail sipping than high-intensity yacht racing can appreciate a look that’s both flattering and functional.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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