Fashion & Style

Plus size swimwear looking good

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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woman in swimsuit
Swimwear for the fuller figure is finally achieving a more stylish look.
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New trends in plus size swimwear

No longer do those of you with fuller figures have to be content with tent like bathing suits. Fashion designers are finally recognizing that the market for plus size swimwear is not only profitable to them (and those who sell their designs), but it is also a reality and a necessity!

Now that the fashion world realizes that big is beautiful, you can look glamorous poolside in a halter-style swimsuit that is designed for the fuller figure. Or, you can choose the silhouette that gives you the coverage you're comfortable with. The styles for you that are now available include boyleg, swimdress, tankini or one-piece. .

And, what's really interesting is that the Internet has become the great equalizer, allowing a few savvy niche merchants to treat all sizes equally. Finally, after years of hunting down obscure plus size departments, you can now see styles in your size, right along with missy and junior sizes.

The new plus size woman is too confident (think Camryn Manheim) to let merchants get away with offering her frumpy frocks. Secure with her size and femininity, she is demanding fashion for her taste level and lifestyle, and finally starting to get it. Thankfully, this applies to plus size swimwear as well.

In America alone, there are 40 million women over size 14, spending $25 billion a year on clothing, or a quarter of all clothing sales, according to American Demographics.

But despite the buying power of voluptuous women, merchants and designers seem to have just discovered the potential of the plus size fashion market, particularly for young, hip customers. Women and girls, regardless or their size, want to be able to choose from fashionable apparel. "They want color, novelty and trendy goods " said Norman Weiss of Syd & Sam (now called Alight.com), an e-tailer serving the special sizes market. The bottom line? Plus size women want the same selection as missy and junior sizes.

Unfortunately, outside of major metropolitan areas, stores aren't able or willing to give up retail space to stock a selection of larger sizes. "We have also learned that the plus customer is the most dissatisfied with the store shopping experience and buys more frequently from catalogs. The next natural extension is for her to shop now online," said Weiss.

The online cataloger and merchants have led the way in the fashion explosion for all full figured women and girls—from sportswear, business wear, formal attire and plus size swimwear. Just let your browser take you on a tour of the many sites that will allow you to shop in the privacy of your own home. You'll be delighted with what you find.

In addition to the suggestions above for plus size swimwear, here's some other fashion advice: You don't have to wear black everyday to look your sleekest. Try these simple figure flattering tips to elongate your body.

1. Opt for a monochromatic outfit.

2. Add contrast color or texture with a blazer, cardigan or overshirt.

3. Leave the blazer or cardigan unbuttoned for maximum vertical lines.

4. Any stripes on the garment should be vertical.

5. Choose scarves tied loosely with long, vertical dangling ends.

6. Match pantyhose hue to skirt or pant and shoe color.

7. Avoid big belts, which can cut you in half visually.

8. Use long necklaces or pendants and avoid chokers.

9. Wear skirts that are longer than they are wide.

10. Choose shoes with at least an inch heel: the taller the better.

11. Elongate the neck with V-necks.

Other tips:

Prints should be scaled for your body - no ditzy prints if you are large. In general, it's the space between prints that makes them unflattering, so look for prints that have overlapping images.

Don't shy away from sleeveless garments, especially eveningwear that you can cover up with a shawl, sheer top or bolero jacket.

Don't think that baggy clothes make you look slimmer. Body-conscious clothes that hint at your curves, without being clingy or tight, are the most flattering.

The worst thing a woman can do is cover up head to toe. Pick your best asset, maybe shapely legs or a curvy bust. Flaunt it! Wear V-necks for your bust or shorter skirts for your legs.

One-piece dresses look sleeker than separates. Look for stretch fabrics and well-placed darts to help the fit. If you do separates, remember the brightest or lightest color or print "pops" and accents whatever it's on. A good way to balance out a top heavy figure: zebra skirt with black turtleneck. You get the idea!

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