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Swimsuit Season Gets Complicated


Now that the pools are open and families are heading back to the beaches, it's time to pack the cooler, choose a beach read and pick out your swimsuit - except this season, it's going to be a challenge. There are a lot of cutouts and straps and strings that make them look more like high-end straitjackets than swimwear.

Sarah Halzack was the Washington Post retail reporter, and she's now heading to Bloomberg. She joins us for more on swimwear that she has described as a jumble of straps that are sure to squeeze your flesh like a meat tie around a tenderloin (laughter). Welcome.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Sarah, can you untangle this for us?

HALZACK: So I'm putting this swimsuit horror show into three buckets. First are these ones with all these crisscrossing straps and lace-ups. It kind of looks like a game of cat's cradle is being played on your chest or on your belly. And it's kind of baffling because the tan lines that these are going to leave behind are really going to be a tough look (laughter).

So then there's also these ones with a lot of cutouts. So maybe they have a big circle on the tummy, or they have rows of slits kind of running from your bust to your hips. And women, you know, we all dread the possibility of a muffin top...


HALZACK: ...And a lot of these allow the opportunity for several muffin tops.

And then the last one is these off-the-shoulder swimsuits. So you've probably seen women wearing these off-the-shoulder blouses. They've become really popular. But the problem is when you're wearing an off-the-shoulder top, you can't really move your arms.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're going to drown if you go into the water with this.

HALZACK: Yes. Good luck trying to do your breaststroke or your butterfly wearing a suit where you can't lift your arms past 90 degrees. Right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why do you think all this strapping and wrapping happened?

HALZACK: It's hard to ignore the role of social media in all of this. Right? And so I think what we're seeing is retailers thought - OK, people are living their lives on their Instagram page, on their Snapchats. And they want to look distinctive. They want something that stands out in a photo. When they post that photo of themselves, you know, laying on the beach with their toes in the sand, they really want to present themselves in this aspirational way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have talked to trend forecasters. Do we expect this to stay around? Tell me no.

HALZACK: Unfortunately, the ones I talked to said, yeah, you can expect it to hang in there for at least another year or so. But this "Baywatch" movie just came out - right? - with big stars like The Rock and Zac Efron in it. And so they're wondering if that might spur, you know, more interest in that sort of Pam Anderson-style, classic one-piece, high-cut kind of look. So it kind of might depend on how well the movie does, and I think it's still a little early to know. But that could be a look we see bubbling up soon, too.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Clearly, this is not a trend for men, or is it? I mean, do they have butt cutouts now?

HALZACK: This is just something that's being inflicted on women. I, thankfully, have not seen any butt cutouts for men, and I hope not to anytime soon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Sarah Halzack, thank you so much, and good luck at the beach.

HALZACK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.