With a trip to Turks and Caicos coming up, I needed a new bikini. Canyon Beachwear had an enormous selection. My favorite was this sleek, white Calvin Klein suit with a silver buckled closure. The color was a dangerous choice—when wet, it would become transparent. But the lining, I was assured by the salesman, would prevent any embarrassing slips and peeks. Even though my gym membership was just two weeks old, the halter top and low-rise bottom made me look more like a Bond Girl than a butterball. 1136 Third Ave., nr. 66th St.; 917-432-0732.
At Chanel, the staff stared icily when I walked in drenched from a sudden rainstorm. I refused to be deterred but was shocked to find that they only had three swimsuits in stock: neon orange, knit navy, and this shiny black number. Though the ruffled trim on the bottom was a little too girlie, I did like the subtle quilting. But the material reminded me of Chanel’s trash-bag purse. 3 W. 57th St., nr. Madison Ave; 212-355-5050.
D’accord by Nicole Olivier
At La Petite Coquette, the lingerie collection dwarfed the swimwear selection. But on a small rack, I spotted this sky-blue suit from D’accord by Nicole Olivier. The two-piece looked sexy on the hanger, and even sexier on me. The top amped up my cleavage, and the bottom fit snugly—without showing off too much of my behind. But the nautical rings adjoining the straps would give me weird tan lines. 51 University Pl., nr. 9th St.; 212-473-2478.
This neon-pink bikini by Vix at Saks was eye-catching, and the twisted gold belt was a cute touch. Once I tried it on, however, I was horrified. The suit looked startling and ridiculous on my pale body. Maybe I’d consider buying it mid-summer when my tan was a deeper shade, but it certainly wouldn’t be my season-opening look. 611 Fifth Ave., at 50th St.; 212-753-4000.
Next, I tackled Bloomingdale’s swimwear department, which had Burberry suits hanging right up front. I tried on a floral eyelet bikini—a saccharine and youthful departure from the line’s stuffy plaid. But the nude shade, lined with white, did nothing for my coloring—I’d look naked on the sand. Plus, the top looked like a bra I own, except this version had underwire cups that were so hard that they squished into my chest uncomfortably. It felt like I was strapping on an S&M accessory, instead of a bikini. 1000 Third Ave., at 59th St.; 212-705-2000.
Inside Pesca Boutique, I nearly walked right out after seeing the communal—and very public—mirror in the dressing rooms. Then I noticed this splashy tie-dyed string top, so I swallowed my self-consciousness. Both pieces were printed with a chocolate-brown base on one side and a solid bright pink on the other—making it two bikinis in one. But the suit, cut rather skimpily by a Brazilian designer, didn’t cover enough of my body for me to feel at ease inside the store, much less out on the beach. 244 E. 60th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-980-1901.
At the urging of my co-worker who has a questionable obsession with the metallic lamé collection, I checked out American Apparel. I didn’t have enough inner Beyoncé to wear a flashy gold triangle top. So instead, I chose this cheery, bright-red one. Though the bandeau flattened me a bit and was slightly see-through, it was the oversize bottom—which looked like granny underwear—that I hated the most. (Ironically, it was called the Slim Bottom style.) Mildly horrified, I put it down and penciled in a weekend of Pilates. 237 Smith St., at Douglas St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-643-1615.
Tired of stripping down, I decided my final destination would be Pucci. A helpful salesman pulled suits out of a tightly packed drawer like a never-ending scarf trick. Though I loved most of the vibrant hues, this particular kaleidoscope print was bright and energetic. The collage of colors was nicely balanced with black and white swirls. I left secretly hoping to return with my birthday cash at the end of the month. 701 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-230-1135.