Fashion Muse: Swimsuits for the Rest of Us

Your mother probably told you to wait at least an hour after eating before you get in the water.

What she didn't tell you was how to look great during those 60 minutes outside of the water before plunging in.

What you need is the skinny from swimsuit designer Malia Mills, whose suits are designed for real women with real bodies. Fox's own Fashion Muse caught up with Ms. Mills, a favorite of Christy Turlington, Claire Danes and Uma Thurman, to find out how real women can look fabulous on the beach or by the pool.

Malia's bikini wisdom:

Fashion Muse: What should you look for in terms of fit and fabric when you're buying a suit?

Malia Mills: We sell all of our suits as separates — any top, any bottom, any fabric any size. We design all of our tops to fit specific bra sizes. The "Striptease Top" is designed to fit and flatter an A cup and it will never fit a C cup, as an example. Likewise, we have the "D-Mure Top" designed to fit and flatter the D cup gal. You get the idea!

Our bottoms are cut from the tiniest "Skinny Dipper" — which is more than a Brazilian but less than a bikini back — to the "Keep It Brief!" Which is a traditional belly-covering brief bottom.

When looking for a suit, we recommend starting with your bra size and selecting a top that gives you the support, coverage and fashion to suit your shape and your personal style. Then pick a bottom that shows off your shape and gives you the coverage that will let you have the most confidence.

FM: Can you really wear the new leather/suede/sequined numbers in the water?

MM: In our line we make velvet suits with faux suede straps as well as floral suits sprinkled with Swarovski crystals and, yes, you can definitely swim in them!

FM: What if you want to look au courant at the beach but also want to swim without losing your bikini top?

MM: Be true to the type of swimming you do — a demi-cut bandeau style can handle a swim in the pool or sea but may not keep up with a dive from the high board or body surfing. The tried and true triangle top and bottom in au courant colors is a great way to mix fashion and function.

FM: What should one do about tan lines from all those peekaboo suits?

MM: I always advocate sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. And for those who do tan, don't worry so much about tan lines and have fun!

FM: Would you ever characterize the type of person who wears a one piece or bikini?

MM: It's as simple as the "comfortable coverage quotient" — some gals just feel more comfortable in more coverage and more suit suits their personal style.

FM: What should people look for in a suit that might not show up in a dressing room test drive?

MM: The best way to test a suit in the dressing room is to walk around, bend over to pick up your towel, lie down and get back up again ... these are the things you'll be doing at the beach so you'll see if the suit stays put.

FM: What shape and color will dominate this season?

MM: Fuchsias, pinks, reds are hot, hot, hot, especially in a halter style and low-rider bottom.

FM: Any last tips?

MM: More fabric is not necessarily more flattering — try on several different styles to see what shows you off best!

A Malia Mills ensemble will cost from $152 to $185 for a top and bottom. She has a shop in New York's Nolita neighborhood and one on Melrose in Los Angeles, but if you can't get to those two cities, check out her suits at Saks Fifth Avenue. Better yet visit the Malia Mills on-line boutique and take pride in the variety of beautiful bodies that these bathing suits enhance ... yours is one of them.