Photo: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
This summer boring is out and bold is in, with bikinis and bathing suits popping up in as many colors as there are shades of blue in the ocean. Basic black and bland, humdrum brown give way to cerulean sky, eggplant aubergine, lemony citron and bright lime green. The swimwear color palette is fresh, fruity, jewel-toned and jubilant, with bursts of sunny colors in geometric shapes, wavy sea-inspired pastels and peppy patterns of flora and fauna turning swim attire into a collective festive beach party. No matter what your size and body shape -- squat, busty, skinny and tall -- there's a way to wear summer's happy hues that will accentuate the positive -- curves -- eliminate the negative -- flab -- and transform you into a sexy, sultry, glamorous beach-bunny goddess.
There are so many great colors that look amazing on all skin types and women of all ethnicities and with brown, black or blonde hair.
- Oleema Miller, co-founder of Mikoh Swimwear
The key to achieving a colorful look that's chic but not chunky is to place the suit's brightest shade on the part you want most noticed.
"Wherever you want to look large -- say the bust -- is where you want to put the bright color," said Kallah Maguire, wardrobe stylist and founder of The Emerald Scarab, a personalized, all-inclusive shopping service. "Wherever you want to look small -- say the butt if that's your big issue -- that's where you want to put the darker, more subdued tones."
If you're classic pear-shape -- stubborn fat around the hips and thighs, proportionately narrower upper body -- Maguire recommends a navy blue color-block print bottom with a bright green or hot pink patterned top.
If you opt for a one piece with a uniform print, try a suit with gathering down the middle, which pulls everything in tight and draws attention to the center of your frame, making you appear instantly slimmer.
Keep this in mind: the bigger the design, the bigger the body part is going to appear.
"If the print is big you're going to look big," she said. Translation: You want to look beachy, but not like a beach ball.
But on the bright side, a smaller print can work brilliantly to camouflage unflattering features, point out Oleema and Kalani Miller, the sister design team behind Mikoh Swimwear, which launched in 2010. They achieved immediate star status: The St. Lucia bikini top and Moorea bottom from the label's 2011 collection were featured on cover model Irina Shayk in the February 2011 "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit issue.
"A patterned bikini can distract away from problem areas," said Kalani Miller, who recommended Mikoh's seaweed-inspired kelp and oceanic tide prints for a silhouette that's sleek but also fun and fanciful.
"The prints also add a beautiful pop of color and a sexy touch that's not overdone," she said.
Skin tone is also an important consideration when considering swimwear color. If you're pale, with a "winter" complexion, stick to shades that are sharp and stark -- white, black, navy blue and red. If you're autumn-complexioned with golden undertones in your skin, choose gold, orange and camel-colored suits.
"There are so many great colors that look amazing on all skin types and women of all ethnicities and with brown, black or blond hair," Oleema Miller said, citing bright orange, Bahamian blue, neon yellow-green and tropical turquoise as favorite go-to colors for bikinis.
When in doubt about what color suit to settle on, Maguire suggests looking to your everyday, on-land wardrobe.
"There's a lot less coverage with a bathing suit, but for the most part, the same rules apply when getting dressed," Maguire said. "It's still the same idea: Whether it's a sweater or a bikini, put the boldest pattern or the brightest color wherever you want to attract attention."
Lose the Heavy Metal
Keep embellishments down to a minimum, Maguire said.
"Metals, buckles and grommets can add bulk," Maguire said. "So you definitely don't want to wear too much hardware. If you are going to wear them put them only where you want people to look. If you're self-conscious about your bust, don't put, say, a tortoise shell ring there."
The bathing suit industry in general is moving away from heavy metal, noted the Miller sisters.
"Swimsuits looks best when they get back to the basics, when they're accessory free, when it's just a beautiful suit on its own," Oleema Miller said. By the way, all of Mikoh's designs are seamless and hardware free. "Why would you want to walk around on the beach or go swimming or surfing in the ocean with giant rings on your hips? It's just not going to be comfortable."
Stringy ties, crocheted backs and gathered fabric can do a lot more with a lot less, creating a look that's original and noticeable but not severe.
"If your suit needs a lot of hardware to make it stand out, then it's not a beautiful suit," Oleema Miller said. "When looking for an amazing suit to buy this summer, pay way more attention to prints, colors, patterns and fabrics."