On the beach, ruffles and flourishes have swept in with the tide, riding the wave of gussied-up clothes washing over the fashion industry. No one should be surprised that the spare, pared down suit is still around, but the freshest look in swimwear is the suit deftly decorated with trim.
Swimsuits often take their cue from the clothes women like to wear off the beach -- not a great surprise since many of the best swimwear designers -- Norma Kamali, Giorgio Sant 'Angelo and Bill Blass -- are also distinguished for the streetwear and evening clothes that bare their label.
Ruffles can be as subtle as wavy trim on the edges or as bold and contrasting as the flounces on a showstopping ballgown. Some ruffles border suits, hinting at the return of the skirt, and lace can be as fragile as a feminine undergarment. And just when you thought the cowboy look was riding off into the sunset, fringe and cowboy belts make their appearance poolside.
Color counts on the beach, and red steals light from the sun. But still as important is black, traditionally the most slimming of all the shades.
Pictured here . . . some of the prettiest looks we know for this season, photographed in Key West, Fla. CAPTION: Cover Photo, The red suit touched with ruffles is by Bill Blass, available at Garfinckel's and Hecht's, $42.; Picture 1, Swimwear takes on a romantic softness in this strapless lavender suit decorated with diagonal ruffle. In lycra by Gottex at Saks Fifth Avenue. $50.; Pictures 2 through 4, Bold patterns and fringe -- on tops and bottoms -- take to the water. St. Raphael's black suit with huge flower burst is nylon and Spandex, from Woodward & Lothrop, $52; Cole Jrs.' one shoulder cowboy suit trimmed with fringe and a western belt, from Saks Fifth Avenue and Woodies, $34; Norma Kamali's daring strapless suit in stretch satin dripping with fringe, by Norma Kamali OMO, from Neiman-Marcus, $105.; Pictures 5 through 7, Black is beautiful -- and always slimming -- for the beach. This strapless suit with the contrast of a bold white bow tie against black is by Oscar de la Renta, at Bloomingdale's, $45; Norma Kamali's slick black tank suit is gussied up with thin gold sequined straps, at Bloomingdale's, $68; a daring black suit endowed with white ruffles at the neck can be worn either halter style or strapless, by Darren Weiss at I. Magnin, $50.; Pictures 8 through 10, How much bareness is enough? The barest of skins in a leopard print bikini, by Norma Kamali at Bloomingdale's, $45; Wonder Woman suit by Norma Kamali teams striped trunks cut high on the thigh with a man's white undershirt, from Neiman-Marcus and Bloomingdale's, $35; double lace insert gives a lingerie look to Danskin's nude color suit (also in red and black) in nylon and Spandex, at Hecht's, $21.; Photographs by Bill Snead