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FASHION: What's Smart for Spring? : Out of the Pool! : Sassy Bikini Tops Adapt Swimmingly to Dry Land

February 26, 1992|GAILE ROBINSON

Bra tops, the all-purpose pieces that European and American sportswear designers show with everything from evening suits to short shorts, are the bodywear choice for summer. Look closely, as swimwear designers have, and you'll see they are little more than swimsuit tops with a few extra frills.

Creating suits that work on land and sea keeps Anne Cole on the lookout for materials and styles that meet the challenge, such as gray and white pin-striped fabric that looks more like something for a man's suit than for swimwear.

"Ways of saving time and money are important," the swimwear designer says. "If a woman can get double or even triple use from an item in her wardrobe, she will."

Los Angeles designer Robin Piccone saw her brightly colored neoprene swimwear tops being worn in New York City clubs last summer. "Although I didn't design them for that," she says, "it inspired future designs."

This year, her own line as well as her designs for Body Glove include dual-purpose tops. A white Body Glove bikini top has plastic flowers decorating the cups, for added dimension and interest. A quilted black satin top in the Piccone line can be worn on the street or in the pool.

Indeed, the swimwear tops that work best with sportswear go an extra yard; they are embellished with beading, appliques or dangling ornaments. Often, they are made of non-traditional swimwear fabrics such as vinyl that looks like patent leather, satin and chiffon.

Piccone says she thinks of the tops as accessories rather than as stand-alone garments. A bra top worn solo over pants or skirts looks very bare. But one that peeks out from underneath a jacket or through a sheer blouse looks right.

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