O: You keep mentioning shapewear. Why does fabric make a difference?
Charla: The best swimsuits now can take almost an inch off your body because the high-tech fabric holds you in and retains its shape after many wearings. As you get older, you need the construction, you need the boning, you need the bra, and you need the padding. If you're over 40 and you find all that in one suit, you're set for the season.
O: One suit! Really? What color should it be?
Charla: You can't go wrong in a dark jewel tone: burgundy, navy, brown, and absolutely nothing beats black. The Little Black Suit is the trump card.
O: What new trends are you excited about?
Charla: We've seen a lot of the one-shoulder dress in 2009—Michelle Obama, Kate Winslet—and I think the one-shoulder swimsuit is going to be the trend of the summer. It's a snappy way to modernize your look and will stay up a whole lot better than strapless suits.
O: Are there any other mistakes you see at the beach?
Charla: A lot of women blow it with the coverup. You can't just throw on a T-shirt. If you want to look chic and sophisticated, think about a whole look at the store, everything down to shoes and a hat.
Never say never, but here a few styles Charla says are hard for most women to pull off.
If you want to wear a boy short, you've got to have a boy body without curves. As women get older, Charla says, they should show a little cheek in your rear end and have a nice, tight fit. A suit that covers the entire rear end tends to be baggy and sit very low on the thigh—usually accentuating the wrong place.
At a certain age, you just have to say goodbye to the teeny-bopper bikinis. If you have an amazing body like Demi Moore or Madonna (and more power to you, if you do!), you can get away with one.
You are asking for trouble. If you're short, the cutouts are going to hit you in an awkward place. And who needs that kind of tan?
If you want to look your thinnest, stay away from anything that cuts across your body. This includes zebra stripes, tiger stripes, army stripes...no matter how cute and trendy, they're unflattering.
Gold and silver glisten in magazines, but when they catch real-life sunlight on your body, every bulge shows.
Suits without built-in support will make you pop out of the bottom and/or the sides.
Nearly impossible to look good in and a poolside embarrassment waiting to happen. Why risk it?