I’ll never forget the endless summers I spent on the coast of North Carolina. My shoulders were always kissed by the sun, my hair was continually salty from the ocean and my one-piece, bright blue bathing suit was my constant companion.

It was one of the most carefree times of my life and even though I was only in my early teens, I knew it was special. There’s nothing like a good dose of love, laughter and beach-bum behavior to create magical memories. Since that snapshot in time, I’ve based a lot of my life, vacations and seaside fashion sense on the sights, sounds and spirit of those endless summer months.

Now, after growing-up in the desert (I’m originally from New Mexico,) I live and work by the ocean, spend my precious days off in the Florida Keys and dress like a bohemian beach bunny. That’s why choosing the right swimsuit is so important to me. It’s not just about the way I look, it’s about the way I feel. I love styles and trends that evoke nostalgia, but at the same time create new moments and memories. I know, I know, NO pressure! The good news is…

This year bathing suit designers didn’t disappoint. Matter of fact, they wowed in all kinds of wonderful ways. When styling my “Best Suits of Summer” blog, I gravitated towards Maya Swimwear. The Argentinian-based company, with a home in South Florida, creates suits that are fun, functional and fashion forward. What’s more, they exude sex appeal without being overtly sexual.

My absolute first choice was their cream-colored, high-waisted “Birdie Pearl” bikini. It reminds me of a pretty pin-up calendar girl mixed with old Hollywood glamour. Think Marilyn Monroe meets Jayne Mansfield. I adore the eyelet lace trimming on both the full triangle top and bottom hugging trunks (pictured in the blog.) I added a pair of two-toned mother of pearl/wooden earrings and one of my favorite necklaces: an unusual, white-beaded turquoise piece from Calypso in the Bal Harbour Shops.

I also fell head over heels in love with their cover-ups. I think they’re some of the best of the season; especially their cream crocheted poncho and white shorts. The detailing is amazing and both pieces fall easily and gracefully over the body. I paired them with Maya’s Hibiscus yellow, tasseled bikini and an Elie Tahari handmade, Indian-inspired, coral-studded, black mesh and satin ribbon wrapped necklace (pictured in the blog.)

Even though I love a crisp new swimsuit, I always have a few from past seasons I can count on. I think a pretty poolside staple (especially a comfy, stylish, fabulously fitting one,) is a must for any South Florida girl. I have a few favorites, but Red Carter is always a stand-out in my closet.

His designs are not only timeless, they’re ramped up with a ridiculous amount of raw beauty. He understands the shape of a woman and knows how to highlight it with class and comfort. Hence, the one-piece bathing suit of his I’m modeling in the blog. The black, stretchy, gold grommet-studded suit is a total throw back to the refined glamour of the early 90’s.

It reminds me of the sleek, sophisticated, sun-drenched Estée Lauder ads that used to feature Super Model, Carolyn Murphy. My Shireen’s Favorite Things team wanted to style our Red Carter look to match those images. It’s what we call an “oldie but goodie.” This suit is such a fantastic fit, even my stylist, Shari, has borrowed it on several occasions and she NEVER borrows my clothes.

Although each look – the one-piece, bikini and cover-up – were all different, we  wanted them to have a ‘worldly’ common thread. That’s the word of the moment in fashion. Meaning you can wear a particular article of clothing anytime, anyplace, anywhere and I can’t think of a better way to describe the Magic City.

After all, Miami is a jaw-dropping melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. We wanted our looks to reflect that diverse and unique flair. We weren’t the only ones, though. Here are some other amazing stand-outs this year…

Keva J: I first met Keva when I did a feature story on her for Deco Drive. Not only is she a home-grown designer, her styles are fresh, fashion-forward and worn by some of the biggest stars Hollywood has to offer (Iggy Azalea, Kim Kardashian and Christina Milian, just to name a few.) Her swimsuit cuts are intriguing, her materials are quality and her looks are right off the runway. One of my favorite suits of all time is her pink, iridescent-trimmed, one-piece called “Baby Cakes.”

Toxic Sadie: If you want a suit that screams va-va-voom, this is the line for you. I’m gaga over their gorgeous Monokinis. It’s like a bikini and a one-piece had a baby and got all the blessings of beautiful beachwear. Put it this way: if you walk down the coastline in any of their cool numbers, you’ll be turning countless heads.

Mirame: If I was spending the summer in Paris or Milan, Mirame would be the first thing in my suitcase. This lovely line defines individuality. I’m mesmerized by its special collection, which consists of categories like ‘Superheroes,’ ‘Natives and Suns’ and ‘Shadows’. It’s just like it sounds, too. The suits are strong, poignant and powerful. This is definitely for the fashion forward female.

Mara Hoffman: Eccentric, groovy and psychedelic; Mara’s pieces play to the inner hippy chic in all of us. She’s a huge hit in Miami, because she’s managed to fuse her fun and free-spirited ways into bathing suit fashion. Her use of bold colors, care-free prints and textured patterns make her designs provocative and daring. If you wear Mara, you’re sure to make a distinctively, dynamic statement.

For a lot of women, it’s not just about the way we look in a swimsuit, it’s also about the way we feel. How we feel is everything and the sun, surf and sand create a special kind of oasis to renew, remember and restore your spirit and that’s why…”The Best Suits of Summer” will always be one of my favorite things.

Blog Wardrobe:

Beige bikini & cover-ups
Twitter: @Maya_Swimwear
IG: @Maya_swimwearok
FB: Maya Swimwear

One piece swimsuit
Twitter: @redcarterswim
IG: @redcarterswim
FB: Red Carter Swim

Spray tan by Valet Tan Miami
twitter: @valenttanmiami
IG: @valenttanmiami
FB: Valet Tans

Twitter @ShireenSandoval
IG @ShireenSandoval

photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Twitter @todp_t4twophoto
IG @Tod_p

styling: Shari Bloch for Koko & Palenki
Twitter @soblondie729
IG @ShariBloch    
FB Styling by Shari

Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Twitter @Odettehernandz
IG Odett_Herndz

Editor: Matthew Auerbach

Keva J Swimwear:
twitter: @KEVAByKevaJ
IG: @kevajswimwear
FB: Keva Johnson

Toxic Sadie Swimwear:
Twitter: @toxicsadie
IG: @toxicsadie
FB: Toxic Sadie  

Mirame Swim:
Twitter: @mirameswim
IG: @mirameswim
FB: Mirame

Mara Hoffman
Twitter: @marahoffman
IG: @marahoffman
FB: Official Mara Hoffman

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox