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Mary Rea | Swimsuit search rarely successful

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I’ve never been a huge fan of swimsuit shopping. The suit I wear now was purchased on sale at Rawson’s in Omak at least 10 years ago. Every June, I promise myself I’ll buy a new one, but the purchase becomes so excruciating I can’t force myself to go through with it.

Let’s start with price. I walk into the store, find just what I’m looking for, flip over the price tag and hastily return it to the rack before I pass out. How can a scant handful of fabric, strings and clasps possibly cost so much?

Manufacturers tell us swimsuits are complicated garments whose prices are tied up in global manufacturing, seasonal retailing and the requirement that they be designed for a wide range of activities and body types.

I get it that stretchable fabrics are more expensive than many other materials. I get it that special machines are necessary to sew said stretchy materials. What I don’t get is why I should have to empty out my checking account for a swimsuit.

Eventually I grab an armful of bathing suits and head for the dressing room. Standing a few feet in front of a full length mirror reveals every bulge, bump, flaw and sign of age. I just don’t handle it well.

But I plunge ahead. It’s time to try on what is basically glorified underwear made out of spandex. Just for the heck of it, I’ve brought along three cute two-piece numbers, each of which cost more than the entire outfit I wore into the store. They are quickly rejected. Too much skin, not enough suit.

At least I’m getting more fabric for my money with a one-piece.

I perform various contortions wrestling the suit into place, meanwhile trying to figure out why my arm is on the wrong side of the shoulder strap. Yikes!

The rest of the pile turns out no better. While I can’t see exactly what’s going on with my backside, I can feel spandex creeping up past an acceptable point. One suit makes me feel like I could be trying out for a pin-up show.

Fashion experts advise taking along a trusted friend to provide honest opinion and emotional support when depression sets in. Maybe next year I’ll try that.

I’m done for this summer.

Mary Rea of Mazama is the author of the novel “Ladies Night Out.” Her blog is at She can be reached at