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Market grows for modest swimwear

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A modest swimsuit from

A modest swimsuit from The retailer specializes in functional suits that are pretty but not revealing.

This burgeoning market appeals to women for a variety of reasons including skin cancer concerns, religious beliefs and personal preference.

More and more designers and retailers are expanding to include nontraditional swimwear that looks more like activewear.

Lori Coulter has options at Macy's in Chesterfield and of tunics, pants and tops all made of Lycra materials ideal for salt water and chlorine environments. She said that the items with an SPF of 50 were initially created as cover-ups when people were out of the water, but she soon discovered that they were being purchased to wear into the water as well.

She said she was happy to create options for women who needed more coverage.

She is not alone, has a new line of swimwear that doubles as gymwear. There are long and short sleeves, skirted bottoms and skirt bottoms with capri-length underpants. and both have swimwear that looks like Hawaiian luau dresses with or without leggings.

Soma Intimates has cover-ups such as the La Blanca striped skirt that can be worn as a mini-dress, midi-dress or maxi-skirt, and it's made of the same nylon and Spandex material as its swimwear.

And virtually every store includes some type of cover-up top that can also double as swimwear. From the Gap, there's an Athleta tunic top that resembles a pull-over Nehru jacket ($69) at that can be worn cropped or extended to just over 32 inches. Eddie Bauer has surfer items that include board shorts for women that extend to mid-calf and a fitted short-sleeved top that is also a one-piece suit.

Meanwhile retailers such as offer loose-fitting, long-sleeved body suits ($90) so modest that they include a built-in hood to cover the wearer's hair.

— Debra D. Bass


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