Despite its barely there design, the string bikini has kept the one-piece swimsuit in its shadow for years.
Some considered its appearance dowdy or dated compared to its sexed-up sibling, which was more commonly seen on celebrities with perfect figures.
But times, attitudes -- and swimsuits -- have changed. The one-piece (or what the French call a maillot) is making its comeback with looks that marry modesty with mega-style for women of all ages and body types.
Here are a few one-piece trends to add some spark to your Independence Day -- or any other day spent soaking up some sun from sea to shining sea:
Play peek-a-boo with crochet, cutouts: Sometimes showing less is more. Example: one-piece swimsuits with skin-exposing cutouts. These can be small and few, running just along the side, middle or neckline of the suit, or more dramatic and revealing (aka the monokini).
Flatter the figure with ruching: Consider it an instant tummy tuck without going under the knife. One-pieces with gathering across the torso comfortably camouflage midsection trouble spots while positively accentuating curves.
Exude glamour by going retro: Burst onto the beach with a blast from the past. Channel the glamour of old Hollywood bombshells with one-piece swimsuits with halter-style straps, sweetheart necklines, bold colors or feminine patterns (stripes, polka dots, cherries or flowers, for instance). Va-va-voom!
Show some skin with a single-shoulder strap: Torn between strappy and strapless? Compromise with a suit whose strap extends across one shoulder, leaving the other exposed. It's sassy and sexy, yet subtle.
Keep it fun with fringe: Maybe it's a leftover fascination with all things Gatsby. Or perhaps an ode to the Wild West. Whatever the reason, fringe is the go-to choice for adding some funk to a one-piece. Most commonly found trimming the neckline, the frayed strips add movement and flounce to an otherwise simple swimsuit.
Stay beach chic with a swim dress: Sometimes a day at the pool entails more than just swimming. When entertaining friends and chasing children around top the to-do list, a skimpy suit isn't always practical. A swim dress blends the look and coverage of a sundress with the material and comfort of a one-piece bathing suit.
Want to show off your figure? Try a strapless hip-hugging style. Boxy and A-line silhouettes provide a looser fit. The result is a look that can go from the street to the beach.
Play up your personality with prints: Patterns full of color and whimsy have been popping up all over the runway, and now they're headed to the beach. Swimwear this season goes beyond solids with patterns ranging from florals and flags to zig-zags and checkerboard prints.
Don't forget the tankini: Want the look of a one-piece but the convenience and comfort of a two-piece? (Let's face it: One-piece suits can be tough to slip in and out of, especially when wet!) Try a tankini. For those not familiar, it's a two-piece suit with a top similar in length and fit to a tank.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG. First Published July 2, 2013 4:00 AM