NEW YORK – Shopping for a swimsuit used to mean settling for something that didn't quite fit right, but advances in technology have made it possible for every body to be hugged by a better suit.
New fabrics and designs make extra hours at the gym seem silly when today's swimwear can make tummies look tighter and cleavage fuller.
"There's no reason to be paranoid about certain areas of your body when you shop for a swimsuit," said Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion director for Glamour. "There are so many tricks and secrets in the fabric and the cut that allow you to camouflage flaws in a genius way."
Dupont has developed two popular fabrics often used to design shapely swimwear: Lycra, the base for just about every suit, and Tactel or uber nylon.
"Tactel is the creative tool that designers use to bring innovative looks to swimwear," explained Karen Capone, textile and interior brand manager for Dupont.
La Blanca is just one of the many swimwear lines that utilizes innovative fabrics for its fashions.
"I think fabric is the key to a flattering fit. It's the foundation, and the prints and textures are the building blocks," said La Blanca spokesperson Betsy Hunter. "For example the way the stripes come together on the blue-striped La Blanca suit in a "V" at the waist slims a woman's waistline. The Lycra in the suit holds you in and smoothes you out if you have a little flab."
Smoothing out lower-body areas is one function fabrics can achieve, but creating eye-catching cleavage is another talent brands like Christina America Inc. excel at.
Bulky padding in swimsuit tops can soak up water like a sponge and start to sag, but the Aquabra Swimwear by Christina quenches this conundrum. These tops have liquid-filled push up pads that create bodacious cleavage that's "so natural it's shocking," Schwartz said.
While many women long for a busty look on the beach, minimizer fabric used in Aerin Rose swimwear helps amply endowed women keep their shape while preventing sagging and offering support.
"These really boost you," said designer Aerin Kwait, who started the line last year when she got fed up with suits that didn't support her 32DD size.
"Very few people make DD or E cup suits," she said. "It's not just about adding more fabric, but the form and function behind the garment."
Carol Wior has a patent for her Slimsuit one-piece swimwear, and guarantees that the suits will take an inch off women's waists. There's even a measuring tape included to check results.
"The suit is fully lined with elasticized Lycra spandex and no other suit has this," said Bob Mazza, spokesperson for Carol Wior. "There is also a hidden underwire in the bra to enhance the figure of a smaller-busted woman and make a larger woman feel more comfortable."
While these new kinds of suits make a good picture, there is a downside to this form-fitting beachwear. Lycra can sometimes cinch you in like a waterproof corset, said Schwartz. But just because you look good doesn't mean you have to be uncomfortable. She suggests using experimentation and courage to find the right fit.
"You need to try on suits and find something that is supportive and pulls you in, but you can still breath," she said. "Talk to a person who works in the sales department, she'll force you to try on things you wouldn't normally try and think out of the box."