THE LAST WORD
SWIMMING THROUGH THE SUMMER SALES

Byline: ANNE D’INNOCENZIO / KRISTIN HEROLD / SHANNON SAUTER

Even though swimwear manufacturers ship most of their line while it’s still the middle of winter — and mark things down right after Memorial Day — there are plenty of women who are still suit-shopping come July 4th. With that in mind, WWD set out to see just what was left on the big weekend.

NEW YORK
After putting off shopping for a swimsuit for about a month, plans to go to the beach — and the fact that I had nothing to wear except for a too-tight suit that was three years old — finally forced me into two of New York’s major department stores over the holiday weekend.
My first stop was Macy’s, which turned out to be a rather tiring experience. As I entered the newly revamped department on the sixth floor, I discovered throngs of shoppers picking through the discounted suits like piranhas devouring a school of fish. Some desperate customers even pounced on the racks of rejects as they came wheeling out of the dressing rooms.
The displays were di-sheveled, to say the least. But there were plenty of styles to choose from, and many of them were 50 percent off. I took my time going through the racks, picking up a hot pink ribbed suit by La Blanca, marked down from $72.99 to $53.99; and a sheer white tank from Jantzen, marked down from $68 to $53.99. After a 10-minute wait, during which the customers were herded like cattle, I finally made it into the dressing room. I liked the hot pink suit, but wasn’t too keen on the sheer. I decided to continue my search somewhere else.
My second stop was Bloomingdale’s, which proved to be a much more satisfying experience. The selection was plentiful and the quiet atmosphere was also conducive to shopping. I found great buys — most suits had been discounted an additional 25 percent off the sale price. Designer suits originally priced at $70 could now be bought for under $40. I tried on four suits — a plaid nylon Lycra spandex tank suit by Anne Cole; a blue and white cotton spandex suit with vertical stripes by Calvin Klein; a bright colored print tank suit by Nicole Miller, and a white tank suit by Robin Piccone featuring a navy bottom and white belt. I liked the Nicole Miller suit the best, but still, I decided to wait a day before I pulled out my wallet.

LOS ANGELES
My once-hot pink swimsuit was looking a little sad come July, so the decision to buy a brand new one came easy. But I was a little concerned about what I’d find once I got to the department stores, since most of them started their sales earlier than usual this year. How was I going to search the picked over racks and find the suit I loved?
I walked into Bullock’s in Century City and found the swimsuit department. I was shocked to find a fairly decent selection, although, it seemed a little better if you were size 12 or larger, or had a thing for mesh.
The only suits that really appealed to me were in that fabric — one was a cute underwire mesh bikini that was $54; the other, a sexy one-piece mesh suit with wooden buttons that sold for $72. Both were by Oscar de la Renta and were 25 percent off.
Even though I usually swear by bikinis, the one-piece suit looked fantastic. I then tried the underwire mesh bikini. The bottom looked good, then I put the top on, and I discovered that my chest suddenly disappeared! I thought underwires were there for support, not suppression. The one piece won. It was sexy and classy — the perfect combination.
Before buying the de la Renta, I wandered into The Broadway just to see if they had anything better. Again, I was surprised by the decent selection. It seemed as if Broadway carried more gingham, plaid and floral suits, and there were a few mesh suits, although not nearly the selection that Bullock’s had. I grabbed three bikinis and headed for the dressing room. First, I slipped into a red and white striped number designed by Cole of California with a retail price of $52; it did nothing for me. Then came a green and white gingham one by Citrus that retailed for $45; it was too sweet and innocent for my taste. Last but not least, I tried on a pink floral push-up bikini from Tango Rose marked $48. It enhanced my chest, but the pattern made me look like a child.
I went back to Bullock’s and bought the one-piece.

CHICAGO
Finding the perfect swimsuit on sale at the end of June can be quite a challenge. Marshall Field’s State Street store rose to meet it; Carson Pirie Scott did not.
At Field’s, the large swim-wear department was awash with customers. About 80 percent of the swimsuits were marked down to $49.97, regardless of the original price. Still, even that amount seemed high for some of the more mundane styles. There were also a few glitzy “1995 Preview” suits by Anne Cole and Anne Klein offered at full price, around $80, but the glitter didn’t appeal to me.
Most of the sale suits were floral, textured or plaid. I grabbed a blue and green Anne Cole suit originally priced at $72 and a forest green and white vertically striped Calvin Klein tank that had been $77. A few crocheted swimsuits were available in each size but only in navy blue or black.
The Anne Cole and the Calvin Klein suits fit, sort of, but they covered too much of my body. Cut similarly, they hit low on the leg, like hip huggers, yet were nearly as unflattering as those high-cut ones that expose the hip bones.
I decided to see if I could fare better at Carson’s down the street, with mixed results.
The women’s swimsuit department was small and deserted. There wasn’t even a sales associate around. Each rack held a little bit of everything but nothing too interesting. A few crocheted and textured items lent some fashion, but the rest were for disguising figure flaws with skirts or shorts. Maybe I’d wear one 20 years down the line.
Fortunately,the junior department selection was much better. Bikinis packed the racks with lots of bright, busy patterns and a bit of mesh. The plaids were in bright reds and oranges instead of Fields’ more conservative greens and blues.
Most of the bikinis turned me off, however, because of heavy padding in the bra. Two exceptions were “1995 Preview” styles by Tango Rose: a tank style in brown, white and black stripes at $54 and one with a string top in green, white and black stripes at $62. I would have considered either if they had been on sale. But rather disappointed by the prices, I left.

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