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The Little Prints

String theory: Why pay a fortune for three triangles of nylon? In these colorful suits, you'll surely make a splash.

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Sick of all your sensible solid swimsuits? There's never been a better season to buy something itsy-bitsy, colorful -- and preferably in two pieces. This season's most covetable ones are more Beverly Hills-circa-1960 than Jamaica-on-spring-break -- think oversize abstract florals and pretty, subdued paisleys. Whether you're after the barest string-tied swatches or something more modest, try these stylish options, all under $100.

If you dare to go really bare, Benetton's meshy turquoise-and-yellow zebra-pattern string bikini is your dream come true ($40 at United Colors of Benetton stores). We'll be covering up a tad more in a pink paisley triangle top and tie-side bottom from Guess? ($70 at Macy's). Still too much hanging out? Try a splashy orange floral tankini that shows just a flash of tummy from OP Separates ($85 at Bloomingdale's) or Old Navy's shorts-and-bandeau combo in an of-the-moment Pucci-ish print ($25 at Old Navy stores). One-piece fans can pack just as much style in Benetton's trendy tie-dyed maillot ($47 at United Colors of Benetton stores).

If the idea of wild color and pattern makes you run for cover, solid suits pair with printed shorts or cover-ups. You can't beat the simplicity of A|X Armani Exchange's boxed, mix-and-match separates. Tops include triangles, bandeaux, and tanks, with string bikinis or shorts for the bottom ($34-$36 per piece at A|X Armani Exchange stores). For one-pieces in every imaginable hue, ring the J.Crew catalog ($48-$98 each; call 800-562-0258 to order). If you feel adventurous later this summer, you can always tie-dye these yourself.

Picks of the Week

Nicole Farhi's showroom sale offers the designer's sleek, stylish clothes for men and women (pictured, below) for up to 70 percent off: Pants and sweaters are $30-$75; dresses are $50-$200; leather is $125-$450. Sizes S-XL. 14 E. 60th St., second floor (212-421-7720); A.E., M.C., V.; Wed.-Thurs. 10-7; 5/24- 5/25.

Shyam Ahuja's hand-woven Indian home and table linens are 50 to 75 percent off at the company's sale: Cotton throw pillows ($12-$25), linen place-mat-and-napkin sets ($46 for six), and embroidered linen bedspreads ($100-$400) are all top-notch gifts. There are also rugs, PJs, and bags. 201 E. 56th St. (212-644-5910); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sun. 10-8; 5/27-6/4.

Meurice Garment Care is taking a third off all leather-and-suede-cleaning prices (usually from $25 for gloves, $75 for pants, and $250 for long shearling coats). 31 University Place (212-475-2778); 245 E. 57th St. (212-759-9057); A.E., M.C., V.; Call for store hours; 5/22-6/17.

S. Feldman Housewares, a top source for high-end kitchen and cleaning gizmos, is shaving 20 to 50 percent off prices on must-haves, including many All-Clad and Le Creuset pots, Wüsthof-Trident knives, and Miele vacuum cleaners. 1304 Madison Ave., near 93rd St. (212-289-7367); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 9-6, Sun. 11-5; 5/22-6/17.

Ad Hoc is moving next month and clearing all stock at 25 to 50 percent off (china, glasses, linens, bath accessories, etc.). 410 West Broadway (212-925-2652); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. till 6; through 6/12 (or until supplies run out).


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