Beach isn't synonymous with bare (in fact, the hottest suits now are one-pieces)…the chicest cover-ups can double as dresses…and towels have become almost an art form.

  • This is not your mother's one-piece.  The hot new maillots are sexy, fresh, and slimming. More body-friendly than bikinis, one-piece suits—or maillots (from the French word for knits)—are making a comeback. They let you bare where you're toned and cover where you're questionable. In gorgeous prints and colors like these, they can double as a bodysuit for linen pants or a full skirt.

  • High and Dry.  Grab your towel—and make it a nice one. Artful graphics can personalize your own piece of the beach. (Or just toss it over a chair or on a bed to doll up a hotel room or a seaside rental.)

  • The New Beach Tops.  Forget giant tees that make you look fat, and sarongs that come unwrapped. The cover-up operation begins here, with tunics and dresses that make a splash on or off the beach.

    Above, clockwise from top: Lightweight striped tunic in feel-the-heat colors. ViX, $104; Oversize sky blue shades mix sporty and retro glam. Juicy Couture, $180; Elegant beach wrap with terry cloth on one side, painterly swirls on the other. Dianora Salviati, $400; Crocheted straw tote has a funky wooden handle and texture to burn. Mad Imports, $68; Bright stylized flowers show up on fresh white toweling. Louis Vuitton, $420; Subtle metallic flat sandals are a swanker version of flip-flops. Salvatore Ferragamo, $310; This glitter-dusted bikini bottom, from Beyoncé's trendy clothing line, exudes star quality. House of Deréon, $135 (includes top).


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