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Susan Holmes-McKagan Headshot

Suit Up!

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Have you ever wanted to master the fine art of swimsuit shopping? Like so many annual traditions (figuring out how to best plant your favorite flower in the spring, or that New Year Resolution of finally attempting hot yoga) whether you are cognizant of that topic or not, spring has sprung, and that means your summer time wardrobe of resort wear, including cover-ups and swimwear, is right around the corner!

First off, it might be helpful to plant this seed in the back of your head. No one, and I mean no one, feels super terrific when trying on the new season's skimpy lycra loin of a cloth that we seem to call-in our society -- "swimwear." Everyone, from my little supermodel friends wanting to add curves to their impossibly lanky frame, to a well worked out "soccer mom" type; all have tough decisions to make in that horrific fluorescent lit three-way mirrored box, we call a dressing room. I say, keep that in mind, as the natural light of a beach shore or sailboat is much more forgiving. And on that note, it never hurts to best prepare oneself both mentally and physically for your swimsuit shopping day.

If you happen to be on the fairer side, here's a little trick for you. The day before you venture out for your new sunny wardrobe, apply a self tanner (my personal favorite is Jergen's from your local drugstore). It acts as a magical airbrush wand if you will, by giving your body an instant glow, while also making you a bit slimmer. You will also notice fewer imperfections -- veins, cellulite, bruises, scars. Be sure and put on some lip-gloss and mascara at least, and an extra checking of your hair that day because it is a known fact, that when you look and feel good, you will have a better success rate at finding and purchasing ensembles you are trying on.

Coming from my experience, in the high fashion modeling world and having been blessed by working with some of the most fantastic stylists and editors of magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle and W. -- and modeling for ad campaigns for world class swimsuit designers such as Gottex, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. I'd like to think I've garnered some pearls along the way, for the fashionable swimsuit shopper. And If nothing else, I have learned that a traditional triangle top, triangle bottom bikini with tie-sides is probably one of the most universally flattering bikini's out there. It's no wonder it has maintained to be a designer staple, year after year, in the highly competitive bathing suit designing world.

I have been the President/Designer for my brand Holmes Swimwear for over a decade now, and dressed everyone from a Sport's Illustrated cover model, to a grandmother who is 72. I have learned women like to look fashion forward, even in a teeny bikini and also want to feel like they have a special suit on that not necessarily, is coincidentally going to be seen on several other bathing beauties on the same beach... on the same day... and the same time. Perhaps the reason, the classic triangle bikini lasts each season, is because it seems to always look effortless. The triangle top lifts your breasts up, but not in a fakey, over constructed way an underwire, especially with padding top can do.

The triangle tie-side bottoms, are conveniently adjustable, while not completely camouflaging the hips, the long dangly tie side spaghetti straps compete for attention and look alluring. Other hip and happening suits this season you might take a fancy to are: the high-wasted 1940's style bottoms, for the most coverage but still maintaining grace and style... and the fun and trendy monokini's (best suited for smaller chested women) that if you dare to wear, scream I look chic and edgy. Of course, we cannot forget the fantastically curve-enhancing "Old Hollywood" silhouettes big this season that seem to look especially great on those with curves (breasts and voluptuous hips). And if you want to dress 'beach babe', most ripe and ready for this seasons poolside moment -- it's all about color blocking (think a different color top and bottom -i.e. a solid tangerine tango bandeau (also best suited on a smaller bosom) with a solid navy hued bottom, etc...

Other trends on the horizon are touches and nuances of neon, floral, stripes, pastels and of course good old solid black and/or winter white. Some of my personal favorite brands this season for both beautiful feminine and whimsical cover ups and swimwear are: Holmes Swimwear, Letarte, Melissa Odabash, Norma Kamali and believe it or not Old Navy has some pretty spectacular inexpensive, retro chic suits. Of course, most of your favorite "house label big-brand" designers, also now carry a line of bathers sure to knock your socks and sunnies off -- Whether it's a vintage inspired chic bikini, or a modern digi-print maillot, with enough swimsuit options out there, you will be pining for beach weather!

Happy swimwear shopping!