How to look good (almost) naked

PUBLISHED: 12:49 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013

There's nothing quite like slipping into a gorgeous swimsuit or bikini for getting us girls in the mood for summer.

There's nothing quite like slipping into a gorgeous swimsuit or bikini for getting us girls in the mood for summer.
It matters little whether the said outfit is destined for an exotic holiday in Barbados, a luxury cruse around the Med or a quick sunbathing session in the privacy of the garden - a fresh look on the swimwear front is a definite must at this time of year.
Hands up though all those women who promise every year to buy themselves a new swimsuit (or two), but never actually get around to it?
There must be many guilty nods of the head out there, especially among those who've sported the same old one or two-piece costume for the past couple of seasons or more.
But there really is no excuse not to be a glamorous bathing beauty given the ab fab styles around right now. Swimwear across the board from budget high street ranges to top celeb collections just get better and better as time goes by as designers cater for every conceivable size, body shape and taste.
Time was when curvier girls were confined to cover-all swimsuits with little frilly skirts, while perfect size 10s had their pick of the crop of sexy and definitely skimpy bikinis. It's a far different story nowadays. There is simply something for everyone from cup-sized bras through to tummy-tucking swimsuits promising to make you look 10lbs lighter.
High quality fabrics, gentle padding, clever styling and design trims all contribute to the creation of a silhouette worthy of a second glance on any beach, be it Brighton or St Tropez.
So what mouth-watering looks can we look forward to seeing - and buying - right now? Hot tropical colours, gemstone shades, animal prints, earth tones and metallics are a few of the goodies in swimwear.
And beachwear accessories are just as important. Co-ordinating kaftans, wraps, sarongs and flirty skirts are a must for those planning to turn heads on holiday.
Jane Fenlon-Smith, product manager with leading swimwear label Triumph International, describes the latest collections as 'exciting and varied'.
"It's surprising how many different designs can be created from such a small piece of fabric," says Jane.
"The Triumph look is strong and elegant. Our collection is designed to fit and flatter. All the prints are carefully chosen, the seams are cleverly placed and the trims artfully added. Women are used to buying their bras in cup sizes, so for a perfect fit, comfort and confidence, they should select their swimwear in the same way."
Hidden underwires are another must for secret support, while seamed bra styles are good for those women with bigger bosoms. Meanwhile, neckline trims can enhance or minimise the bust, says Jane. Drawstrings are another useful feature to conceal or reveal a good or bad feature.
But for those girls who might be planning to go a little OTT on the beach this summer, a word of warning from Jane.
"Our top tip is to wear what suits you. Colour is crucial here. For example, if you don't normally wear yellow, why go mad on the beach?
If you wear something you're not happy with, it will ruin your holiday.
"There are lots of turquoise blues around which always look good and suit most skin tones. Black is dramatic and a definite must for those who feel uncomfortable wearing any other colour. Flower prints are, quite literally, big this year. And look out for paisley prints too.
"This season, there are plenty of bold designs around, but if they're not to your taste, go for something plain and well cut, and you can't go wrong."
Accessorising the 'ready for the beach image' is vitally important, Jane agrees. "Accessories are a priority to really cut a dash on the beach," she says. "There are so many budget-priced chunky beads and bangles around which look really good with swimwear.
"Ethnic looks are great for this year's important safari trend and they will even update last year's swimsuit. Fabric bags, perhaps beaded, and sun hats will also add pizzazz. Pareos and sarongs are always pretty yet practical too."
For those still puzzling about swimwear, here are a few of Jane's hot tips ...
If in doubt, choose a one-piece swimsuit
If you want a bikini but have a disproportionate figure shape, go for a design where tops and bottoms are sold separately
High cut legs will elongate short legs
A halter neck or a V-neck will appear to minimise a large bosom
For maximum coverage but with the appearance of less, choose a dark style with a light-coloured trim on the neck and legs
A tankini will cover a less than svelte midriff
Regular over the shoulder straps are best for wide shoulders
Stripes work well to deceive the eye, but make sure the garment fits well and stripes don't waver
Prints can be used effectively for spot reduction eg a strategically-placed flower or motif can attract the eye and take it away from a 'problem' area.
A pareo or sarong is essential to drape and disguise

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