Garnet Hill is having a swimwear sale: a suit that would have cost you $88 last week costs you $48 now. I consider that a reasonable price, since many brand-name suits sell for more than $100 these days. But a well-made suit looks better, feels better, and lasts longer, even if you were robbed at the register. And since I hate swimsuit shopping like all sensible women, knowing what works for me and then shopping on websites with customer reviews makes all the difference — as does trying on the suits at home.
I got this one in these stripes, and I like it a lot:
It also comes in solid black and a few other prints. I look best in a distracting print rather than a solid color. For some reason, these stripes are flattering even though they are horizontal, which should give the illusion of wideness, not thinness. I wear striped tees all summer so I may just be used to the look.
There is nothing all that spectacular about this suit except that it looks good on many body types, is comfortable, and isn't all that revealing. I like a suit I can wear for most of the day with ease. For Maine, I also like a suit that can appear in public — we occasionally get dragged from the pool to do something with the innkeepers with no time to change. Last year it was an impromptu outdoor dinner party for eight (they finally let us put on bathrobes). Once, back in my bikini days, they marched us off to see a parcel of land for sale that simply couldn't wait five minutes. I had to improvise mightily with a bath towel. A suit like this is far more respectable, even with a bath towel for a skirt.
This one has a high, straight back and some ruching across the front, but not too much:
Ruching on a swimsuit has always confused me: Why add extra ripples and wrinkles of fabric in a location you hope to draw attention from? Ruching on stretchy fabric never lays just right unless you fuss and fuss and then try not to move. So most of the time it just looks sloppy while telling the world: "I'm trying to camouflage this problem spot — see?"
I recently tossed a J. Crew suit with so much ruching that I could create a kangaroo pouch to hold my phone and sunglasses, not that I ever did. For some reason, suits that have conservative cuts often feature ruching, so I'm stuck.
Garnet Hill also makes a "retro" suit with folded pleats (which they call "ruching") on the front and back. If you include the lining, you can have as many of eight layers of fabric bulking up the very torso you hoped to minimize. And it probably takes about a week to dry.
I worry about sunburn, so I like coverage, especially on top since I spent many hours reading old New Yorker magazines while simmering in the hot tub (I am only caught up as far as February in spite of all my hard work in there). Skinny straps and plunging necklines and backs aren't for me. I think skimpy suits look more at home on a New Jersey beach or a cruise ship than up in Maine. The same goes for metallic fabrics, sexy lacing and cut-outs, and excessive hardware. Along the New England coast, the prevailing theme is simplicity, and all that fancy stuff is trying too hard. Save it for the hotel pool in LA.
Speaking of coverage, I ordered this rash guard to match my suit:
As you can see, it may be called a "rash guard" (to protect all of us imaginary surfer dudettes from heavy sand exposure) but it is actually the wonder of all wonders: the Swim Turtleneck.
Since the pool and hot tub where we spend most of our vacations (read in hot tub, cool off in pool, warm up in hot tub...) is in direct sun for most of the day, I'd been wearing old, long-sleeved tees plus my floppy hat. The Swim Turtleneck will be a big upgrade in style and practically, since it matches my suit and won't drip buckets when I'm not in the water. It will also provide protection against the cool Maine breeze off the harbor before we hit the water.
I'm waiting for them to come out with Swim Leggings next.