It's a cross between go-go dancer and a Western rocker.
The bathing suit of the season undulates when you move and is selling well in stores, despite some fashion types thinking it's a bit -- well -- questionable.
That would be the fringe bikini. "Fringe is one of the hottest styles," says Bloomingdale's fashion director Susan Marasco, pointing to music festivals like Coachella, "where the uniform is a fringe bathing suit top with cutoffs."
But fringe can be really hard to pull off, says style expert Jacqui Stafford, author of "The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets," ($25, Gotham). "When it comes to real women, it draws the eye to exactly the part of the body where the fringe is." The message? If you're hippy, don't wear it on the bottom, and if you're buxom and trying to be discreet, avoid it on the top.
"It's a young thing," adds Adam Glassman, creative director of O, the Oprah Magazine. "If you're old enough to have worn it the first time around, then you might look like you're trying too hard this time. It could look 'Real Housewives,' and not in a good way."
Fear the fringe? There are many other fresh style options for the season. Bloomingdale's Marasco says the return of the one-piece as a seasonal swim statement is "huge," with styles that include graphic prints, new textures such as crochet and "playful cutouts, laser cuts, slits on the side -- it's all very modern." And, along with a vibrant color story, find plenty of black and white, which matches right up with the ready-to-wear trend.
In the world of two pieces, retro structured bralettes are plucked straight from the runway, often paired with a newer, more modest bottom. Overall, says Marasco, "the bandeau top is one of the bestselling silhouettes. It's very versatile and comes with a v-wire, flutter, ruffle and in sporty styles."
"Women are looking at swimwear more and more as they do apparel," says Kay-Lin Richardson, sales director of Panache, the British swimwear and lingerie company.
Are you ready to take the plunge?
TAKING TRAUMA OUT OF FINDING A GOOD FIT
"It's a traumatic experience, isn't it?," asks Adam Glassman, creative director at O, the Oprah Magazine, referring to the project of swimsuit shopping. Yes, Adam. Yes, it is. He offered a few tips to help ease the pain of the process when you're not exactly a Victoria's Secret model.
1. Be prepared to devote a little time. You don't always find the right one on the first try.
2. Wear a little makeup, get a bikini wax, try to look a little cute, it will be less traumatic that way.
3. Remember that size varies and your dress size is not always your swimsuit size. Don't be put off by going up one or even two sizes.
4. Properly adjust all tops, straps and ties before making a decision.
5. Take the "towel test" -- pick up something from the floor and if anything pops out, pouches or bags when you bend down to pick it up, don't buy that suit.
TAKE CARE WITH CUTOUTS
Cut-outs are a huge trend, but you need to be careful, warns style expert Jacqui Stafford. If it's too tight, you could get a bulge -- she recommends buying one size up.