Thursday, June 21, 2012 need a bathing suit.

One of my friends will tell me that this post is coming about 4 months too late.  This friend starts in February looking for the perfect suit, ordering multiple sizes and shapes from different department stores, and returning what she doesn't need.  She's done by March.

I, on the other hand, wait until summer, and scratch my head every year.  Maybe one year, I'll have success like she does.  Until then, here I am.  Late June, and as of yesterday morning, no new bathing suit.

I think I can speak for Lisa too to say that if you are looking for advice on string bikinis or monokinis, you won't find it here.  We are moms, chasing kids, tide-pooling, and serving lunch on the beach.  Occasionally, we'll be at a resort, but what is most important to us in finding a bathing suit is that it is flattering, with an updated style and fit.

So, where do I find bathing suits?
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For retail stores, one of my stand-bys is going to the store, Beachfront Property, in Newton, MA.  Not unlike Lady Grace or Intimacy for bras, the ladies at Beachfront Property can take one look at you and tell you your bathing suit choices.  They carry a couple of lines that I personally love - Sunsets (you can mix and match tops and bottoms  - great tankinis), Karla Colletto (REALLY pricey, but fashionable suits with underwire support - 2 things I look for in a suit).  They carry almost 60 brands of suits in all shapes and sizes.  Additionally, they have all the necessary flip-flops and coverups you need to accessorize your suit.

There is another retail store dedicated to swimwear called Everything But Water; they just re-opened at new location in the Natick Mall (2nd floor next to Nordstrom - they used to be near J.C. Penney).  They have stores across the country, from Arizona to Virginia.  Online, they have a 'Perfect Fit' tool; take the quiz, and it makes swimsuit suggestions for you.  I just took it, and it told me to shop the Karla Colletto collection.  Good to know that it works.
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Last night, I visited Everything but Water, and came away with not one, but TWO new suits (including the black version of the one above).  They have a ton of selections, the store is really clean, the sales people were helpful and friendly, and you have to love a store that had individual packages of 'disposable undies' in the dressing rooms.

Online, I like to shop at several stores.  Neiman Marcus has a great selection of suits online in their 'Swim Shop'.  The selection is definitely more 'I'll-have-another-pina-colada-by-the-pool' than 'Mom-at-the-beach-with-small-children', but they have a great selection of suits by Splendid, Marc by Marc Jacobs, La Blanca and Spanx (just to name a few of their more moderate priced suits, and personally, I have a La Blanca suit).
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Also, Neiman has a great return policy - no need to run back within 30 days for returns, which are inevitable with online bathing suit purchases.

Also online, I have to say that I really like Lands End for suits.  You can mix and match tops and bottoms and they have a wide selection for many body-types.

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As a piece of advice, I recommend a suit from here if you plan to head to a water park, whether that's Canobie Lake Park or Atlantis in the Bahamas; you need a suit that does not move.  The resort suits, while cute, are no match for the Leap of Faith slide.
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Last Thanksgiving holiday, I witnessed one too many ladies 'readjusting' after a slide with their kids.  Not pretty.

Finally, Bloomingdales does a really nice job both online and in their stores of carrying a huge selection of swimwear.  You can find brands like Profile, Gottex, Juicy Couture (yes, they have some cute suits), and Tommy Bahama alongside Diane von Furstenberg, and Carmen Marc Valvo.

When shopping for a suit, remember these final tips:
  • Be your most sleek and shop or try-on before eating lunch. 
  • Be clear about what it is you want.  I always want underwire and rarely stray from that.  If you want a one-piece, only try those.  If you want a tankini, ditto.  Before you shop, think about your favorite bathing suit, and list the things you like about it.  Stick with suits with the same features.
  • If online, order as many bathing suits as you like, but check the return policies of the online retailers.  
  • If in a store, try on anything and everything.  Don't be afraid to take piles into the dressing room with you. 
  • If in a specialty swimwear shop like Beachfront Property or Everything but Water, talk the advice of the sales people.  They've seen it all.
Good luck.  It's a tough world out there.  Let us know if you find any great sources!  We're always looking.  ~ JH

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