Some will stare. Others will point. But if done right, the ice cream man might give you a free popsicle.

“The cutouts are very sexy in that they show skin without baring it all,” says Brazilian bathing suit designer Amir Slama. “They leave something to the imagination.

“Since the day I started my swim collection, I have always loved this look, and year after year I have incorporated it into my collection,” he says.

Finally, it’s catching on – from the Brazilian girls to the American ladies.

“Cutouts provide the perfect alternative for any woman who is looking for a fashion-forward alternative,” Slama says. “This style can and should be worn on the beach, but it is also a great loungewear choice. Going to the beach is yet another occasion for women to ‘dress,’ and show off their fashion sense and appreciation for luxury.”

Celebrity stylist Robert Verdi has a similar philosophy on the monokini movement.

“Swim has become a lifestyle,” he says, having just returned from Miami Fashion Week, where the monokini was a very popular trend.

“Bathing suits are becoming pieces of fashion, rather than just swimsuits. Designers are thinking about it in the way Donna Karan thought about office attire – going from the office to the party. It’s going from the beach to the party. It’s a seamless way of living. It’s like living a glamorous life, wear that piece, put on a jacket, a sarong or a sheer cover-up, and be totally dressed and go to the club.”

The problem? Tan lines. But that being said, women always bring along another bathing suit, which is “the tanning suit,” Verdi says. “They have the fashion one for the yacht or going to Capri, and they have the other one to bake under the sun with.”

One thing you don’t have to worry about is getting the bottom separated from the top.

“I’m always sending Eva [Longoria] bikinis, and sometimes I’m not as precious about packing as I should be, but with those [monokinis] you can never lose your bikini bottom.”

Kali Swick, who works in the marketing department at the Web site Diane’s Beachwear, has a hard time keeping monokinis in stock.

A striped Betsey Johnson side cut-out suit sold out immediately, and their other top sellers, a Versace-inspired cutout and a leopard print VIX swimsuit, are selling out quickly. Net-a-Porter only has a “large” left in their Strawberry Sunrise monokini suit. A Gottex “Monokini” Scoop suit at Nordstrom? Sold out.

“It’s very reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot a la 1950s,” Swick says. “It’s very upscale.”

Monokinis come in assorted colors, styles, cuts and cool graphic prints like rainbows and stars, with little loops and crochet or string hanging from the sides.

Finding the right one for your figure is key, but there are still many designers currently selling them.

Michael Kors, BCBG, Norma Kamali, American Apparel, VIX, Juicy Couture, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Billabong and Rosa Cha monokinis are available this season.

Monokinis come in all different styles – from a string down the front to the bottom, or half moon-shape cutout curves on each side. Some are strapless, some are crisscrossed, some have leather straps, some have only one cut-out side, and others are bejeweled.

“You still get that draw of a bikini, but its showing off different places a bathing suit wouldn’t,” Swick says. “It accentuates your back in ways that a boring one-piece or a bikini wouldn’t.”

Celebrities like “The Hills’ ” girls Lauren Conrad and Whitney don revealing monokinis (Seafoly and Trina Turk, respectively) in the current issue of Us Weekly. Eva Longoria, Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba and Lisa Rinna are other celebrities that have been seen frolicking on the beach wearing the cut-up swimsuits.

On a Macy’s blog, a confident mommy writes about a recent purchase of an olive Michael Kors bathing suit. “I have an insecurity about my stomach from having children,” she writes. “And this suit covers and holds in all the right places that are wrong. It is stylish yet still classy, and I love the green color because it accents my olive skin tone. I won’t be covering up this year.”


IF you’re still wearing a muumuu to the beach, celebrity trainer Gregory Joujon-Roche, author of “One Body, One Life,” who is responsible for the bodies of Pink, Gwen Stefani, Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire, has the three best exercise tips for you to get into a monokini:

Reverse lunges. Stand up straight, step back behind you with one leg as far as you can, and lunge back. Go slow. Come from your butt, not your knee. 15 reps each leg. Four sets.

Bent knee narrow push-ups. Bring your hands almost touching, pivot off your knees and come down to where your breast is almost hitting your palm. Do 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up. Four sets.

Rear dips. Sit on a chair, walk out two or three paces, leave your palms on the outside edge of the chair, drop your butt down just below the chair and push back up, flexing the back of your arms and looking straight ahead. Do 15 reps. Four sets.


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