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Answer Angel: The search for the perfect swim cover-up

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

It’s the season for pool and beach fashion questions. Answers start here…

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I’m on the hunt for the perfect beach cover-up, but I’m having trouble finding one that seems right for me. I want something that’s comfortable — comfortable enough to wear over my swimsuit while lounging by the pool. (I’m not that eager to show off my swimsuit body except, of necessity, when I’m swimming.) Ideally it would be the kind of clothing that I could wear over my suit if I wanted to stop at the store on the way to or from the beach/pool. All the cover-ups seem to me to be too flimsy, too short, too see-through, too revealing. Your suggestions?

— Elizabeth T.

Dear Elizabeth: What you’re looking for is actually more of a dress, right? One that looks good on the beach or at the grocery. So don’t limit your search to the “cover-ups” category in store or online. Flouncy tiered dresses are a huge summer fashion and, in the right fabric, they can work wonderfully to cover your suit.

Cotton and linen can go limp when wet, so steer clear of those fabrics and instead focus on jersey or blends that won’t wrinkle badly or turn into a soggy dishrag. This is a great time for sales on all beach wear, but size choices are limited, so act quickly. Take a look at the Women’ Cotton Jersey V-Neck 3/4 Sleeve Swim Cover-up Dress Embroidered at Lands’ End (, reduced from $39.95 on sale for $11.99 but only a few left and going fast) to get an idea of what I’m talking about. I like the longer sleeve for sun protection and the neckline is such that bathing suit straps are covered. Check out Nordstrom Rack’s “dresses under $50” like the mid-calf Velvet brand Torch Maxi Tiered Dress in rayon/spandex (, $29.97). I’m also seeing a lot of jumpsuits, which make cute cover-ups, but beware. They’re the devil to get on and off.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I can’t find a decent swimsuit to fit my body. I’m over age 50 and a plus-size 18 and everything in my size makes me look like an ancient relic. I don’t want a skirt, and I don’t want to completely hide my cleavage (one of my remaining assets). My legs look pretty good, a little saggy at the top but not too bad. I think I’m in pretty decent shape, but I’m at a loss. Can you suggest a one-piece that actually compliments a larger body instead of trying to hide it?

— Deborah D.


Dear Deborah: You’re so right to recognize your assets and want to focus on them! Think about a “tankini,” which is not a bikini but a two-piece swimsuit that looks like a one-piece. The beauty of this arrangement is you can mix and match sizes for a good fit.

Take a look, for example, at the plus-size Anne Cole Twist-Front Underwire Tankini Top and High-Waist Bottom at Macy’s (, top $78, bottom, $64). Underwire is something to look for to enhance your cleavage. Shirring in the torso of a suit is another way to minimize waistline issues. Another style I think you might like is the Cut Out Underwire One Piece (, on sale for $30, reduced from $100), which comes in prints that also can distract from areas that aren’t your best feature. You say you want to steer away from a skirt suit, but consider the sarong look. It’s a front panel that has a drape effect but is not longer than a standard swimsuit and not a longer “swimdress,” which you’ll want to skip.

Reader Rant

Julie S. writes, “I’ve noticed recently that clothing advertisers are trying to show size diversity amongst their models, a trend I fully support. However, as a 5-foot-7 woman whose BMI is smack in the middle of the ‘normal’ range, I am still not seeing any models that represent my body type. They are all so skinny they practically disappear when they turn sideways, or they appear to be obese. Why can’t advertisers show women models who are in-between these two extremes?! It would make it so much easier for average-size women like myself to visualize ourselves in the advertised styles!”

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