Show your bikini figure - on beach and stroll through town

A hard-earned bikini figure deserves a grand entrance. After all, who wants to sell their looks short while on the beach or taking a dive from the board?

Fashion designers, have discovered this sentiment among sun worshippers, pool goers and beach vacationers. The days when an oversized T-shirt and flip-flops were sufficient for shuffling to the pool bar or the kiosk are over. Tunics, short skirts and beach attire along with matching bracelets and necklaces make it all look a lot better. The right bag and sunglasses go even further to complete the outfit.

"Beach fashions are becoming more perfect and are hardly distinguishable from normal summer clothing," said swimwear fashion designer Nora Kuehner of Munich. The collections are offering not only figure-flattering tankinis, bathing suit tops that drop to the waist whose longer shape can conceal bulges.

"This summer the thing is - as in fashion in general - tunics in various shapes, lengths and styles," Kuehner added.

Tunics, whether in the same fabric as the swim suit or bikini, in a solid colour or in the currently popular bright colours with large floral prints, are fully endowed with fashionable details this summer. There are tunics with gathers, with parts that are richly adorned with jewellery and with bolero sleeves. The selection also is great in length. It all depends on how much leg a woman wants to show.

"Put an ethno or braided belt with the tunic and it can be worn easily in the evening to dinner at a tapas bar or trattoria," said image consultant Rosel Haas of Dusseldorf. The belt should, however, be wide, and for bold women, it can glisten in the sunshine or in the evening's candlelight. The same is true for shoes.

"During the day, wear flat sandals with a strap between the toes, and in the evening wear sandals with a heel. That livens the outfit right up," said Kuehner. Gold, silver and metallic in general - sparkling shoes can be worn day or night. Roman sandals are passing flip-flops in popularity this summer.

"They are the winners of the season and they are anything but earthy looking," said Martin Wuttke of an international leatherware trade show held in Offenbach, Germany. They also can be made to glisten.

Tunics are not the only garments that go well with a bikini or swimsuit. Another option is a beach dress, which everyone should have. There are classics in stretch cotton, cool flattering variations with asymmetrical seams or wrap-arounds.

"It's worthwhile paying attention to quality. Then it could become the most important garment in a woman's vacation wardrobe," said Rosel Haas.

Many clothing makers also offer short skirts or shorts to match the swimsuit. They often come in the same hip bright colours with rich floral prints. Other makers have capris in their lines. Either way, these items are suitable for a stop at the beach bar or for a stroll through town.

Pareos are large, sheer square pieces of cloth - like a giant scarf - that can be worn as a skirt or draped over the body like a dress. The makers Glumann, Triumph, Sunflair and Opera, for example, are offering a range of pareos this season.

Making a grand entrance while on vacation can't be accomplished with clothing alone. Fashion-conscious women take along a scarf while walking along the beach to protect themselves from the breeze. Large necklaces made of artificial pearls and plastic armbands are the beach vacationers' accessories of choice because they are weather and water resistant.

The bag that best matches sporty, youthful outfits is the classic beach bag made of canvas with leather accents, said Wuttke, adding that the bag is enjoying a renaissance. Those who choose the look with the XXL sunglasses should choose a see-through fun bag with neon straps.

For the more discreet outfit, there are purses with huge floral print or large polka dots. In any case the bag should be large. Then it can carry the entire vacation wardrobe. ( dpa )

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