As Vegas pool parties proliferate, so does designer poolwear that takes the “swim” out of swimsuit.
In the world of fashion, there are some paradoxes that women have come to reluctantly accept, like covetable designer shoes that are too painful to actually walk in. But one growing craze may just be the ultimate contradiction, even for the most forward-thinking trendsetters: swimwear that’s not meant for swimming.
The bathing suits in question are made of fabrics that are, ironically, dry clean only-—or they’re detailed with metal or other flourishes that can rust or wilt when exposed to water. And let’s face it, a rusty bikini is not chic… and it’s probably toxic as well. Unlike, say, a Speedo one-piece, they’re a lot more evocative of the catwalk than of swim caps and chlorine.
“They’re really just a way to go out to a party in as little clothing as possible,” says swimwear expert Jenny Altman. But this kind of skimpiness doesn’t come with a skimpy price. Sauvage Swimwear’s non-water-friendly bikini, with a top made solely of silver-plated metal, goes for $700 at Palazzo Pool Shoppe. The crocheted Missoni maillots at the upscale fashion website Net-A-Porter cost more than $500 and come with an advisory to refrain from swimming in them. Herve Leger—the brand known for its extra-curvy, bandagey cocktail dresses—offers meant-to-be-dry suits for similar prices.
You’ll see them at the popular pool parties around town, like Marquee Dayclub at Cosmopolitan and XS Nightclub’s Night Swim, typically paired with other water-unsafe accessories: extra-high suede wedges, the perfect blow-out, a full face of makeup, and glittery jewelry. Sure, they’re not suited (excuse the pun) for doing the backstroke, but in these surroundings—with DJs, dancing, and plenty of cocktails—it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate fashion statement.
Even though calling them “swimsuits” is, strictly speaking, a misnomer, it’s easy to see why some women love them. “They think about their outfits at the pool just like they would at night,” says Grant Speros, Marquee Dayclub’s general manager, of his swimsuited guests. “It’s exactly like the nightclub, except that the lights are up and everybody is running around half-naked.”
The no-swim swimsuit trend is now popping up in other cities, but perhaps they work best in Las Vegas. “The pool becomes the excuse to basically be close to naked, which isn’t a bad thing,” says Altman. “If you’re in Vegas, that’s sort of the goal anyway, right?”