NEW YORK -- You want to relax at the beach. You want to feel good. You want to look as if you don't have a care in the world.
It takes a little bit of effort to appear so effortless.
You want to make smart choices but not overthink it, says swimwear designer Shoshanna Gruss.
"The bottom line with swimwear, especially if you are buying it for vacation purposes, is for the fantasy. Think of it like a sundress, and remember you are getting it for fun," she says. "You want to feel comfortable and sexy, but, yes, that's a little hard because you are basically walking around in your underwear."
Buy for Body Type
Don't buy for trend, buy for body type, Gruss says, and a little ruching and distracting detail never hurt anyone.
And, she adds, keep reminding yourself that soon you will feel the sand between your toes.
Be Playful, Not Fussy
For the rest of the ensemble, be playful, says Los Angeles-based designer Trina Turk. "With a colorful tunic, a wide-brim printed hat, sunglasses, sandals and sunscreen, I'm ready for the beach," she says. "Summer style should be sexy and confidently sophisticated, but not fussy."
Color Is Important
Coral and pink lipsticks set the mood right away, says New York-based makeup artist Elle German. Apply the lipcolor with your fingertips to get more of a natural stained look.
The eye is instantly drawn to bright hues. Put them where you want everyone looking, whether it's the racing stripe down the bodice of your swimsuit, jeweled collar of your cover-up, neon polish on your toes or the sun-kissed canvas of your bag.
Oh, and leather works, too. It's what Banana Republic creative director Simon Kneen uses to carry his towel, sunscreen, hat and iPod. "It is so much more stylish," he says.
A leather tote in a tropical shade does double-duty for business and pleasure, he adds.
A Few More Tips
• If you don't know where to start at the store, try a 1950s style suit that helps create a pinup silhouette or a crocheted fabric that pays homage to the relaxed '70s, Gruss suggests. There is an '80s scuba-inspired Body Glove moment happening now that also can be flattering, but takes a little confidence to pull off.
• Transition pieces such as a maxi dress or resin bracelets keep you going all day, says Turk, who collaborated with Banana Republic on a limited-edition summer collection. "If you are going from pool to dinner, you must be on vacation!" she says.
• Take good care of your swimsuit, including rinsing it with clean water as soon as you can. The combination of sun, surf and chlorine causes fabric to fade and stretch and elastics to crack.
• Because you should be wearing your SPF on your skin, you can fake the glow with a water-based tinted moisturizer and bronze powder, applied with fingertips along the perimeters of the face and along the cheekbones, says German.
• Another fake-it tip from German is for the "wet-head" look. "There's a difference between actual wet hair and the appearance of wet hair," she says.
While your hair is still truly wet, apply leave-in conditioner all over your hair and add a waterproof protective product, especially if you have color-treated hair. Use a blow-dryer on the ends but leave the remaining hair damp. Pull the hair into a low side ponytail.