The good news is that this summer, swimwear is about all things vintage: bright color-block patterns, halter tops, bottoms with wider waistbands - that's right, no more thongs, girls.

"You definitely want to go more retro, and the halter is a must," said Marcia DiBona, manager of South Moon Under in Center City. "And that means a fuller cut that sits lower on the hips. But at the same time, we are using less fabric on the bottom."

And believe it or not, DiBona said, the one-piece is making a comeback.

"Metallics are out," she added. "If there is any embellishment at all, it's with enamel buttons."

"We are definitely seeing more of a Rita Hayworth, Annette Funicello look," said Sarah Rodowicz, a spokeswoman for Bloomingdale's at King of Prussia.

"And there are lots of cover-ups and swimsuit dresses. Some of our hot brands include Betsey Johnson, Lucky and Vix by Paula Hermanny."

Still, despite promises that metallics are over and thong bikinis are so Baywatch, already, it is still hard to find the right bathing suit for the body. Even with a body close to Halle Berry perfect, many of us have bathing-suit hang-ups.

I've been putting off my purchase for months. So many questions, so little dressing-room time. Are my bikini days over? Should I wear a tankini despite the fact they feel so circa 1998, but are still figure-friendly? Cover-up or no cover-up?

The trick, says Lynette Kirk, a design director at L.L. Bean, is to know your body shape. The store's Web site, www.llbean.com, helps women match their body shape to the perfect bathing suit.

"You have to know the part you want to accent, whether it's your waist, your bum, your breast or your legs," Kirk said.

"Once you know what you want to accentuate, then you can figure out what silhouette you should buy."

Kirk recommends that women overly conscious of their bottoms - that would be me - go with a solid bottom and a printed top.

Some of the new styles include what Kirk calls a surplice empire-waist tank with floral tops and solid bottoms and vice versa.

You have to be really honest about your figure, Kirk says. She also recommended that we take our best friends bathing-suit shopping with us. And don't stand so close to the mirror, she says. That way you can see more of your silhouette.

My best piece of advice is to ignore the underwear peeking out of your bathing-suit bottom. The extra fabric will make you look fat. You really can't tell how it will all come together until you are home.

I told Kirk my proportions and my body concerns, which are for the most part an itty-bitty top and full bottom, making me a triangle. Surprisingly, she suggested I go for the bikini.

Feel self-conscious about your bottom half? she asked. Put on a sarong.

It's that easy? I don't believe it. But maybe, just maybe, I'll get that red-and-white polka-dot two-piece I saw at Target after all.

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/elizabethwellington.